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“The Post-modern Fairytale of them All”- A Review of “Mirror Mirror” (2012)

Posted in Old Non Horror Reviews with tags , , , , , , on July 8, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews
When two films are released within months of each other focusing on the same story or fairytale in this case, its difficult not to make comparisons. It is however fair to say that both films hold a very striking and opposing presence in Hollywood and both offer something different to the viewer. “Mirror Mirror: The Untold Adventures of Snow White” (2012) has a contrasting style from the previously reviewed “Snow White and the Huntsman” (2012), “Mirror Mirror” is family friendly, it is targeted at children (possibly from around the age of 6 upwards) with its light hearted tone. It still does hold a universal appeal, and like Disney its something that everyone can enjoy. 

Similarly to “Huntsman”, “Mirror Mirror” is visually appealing, as a lot of thought and detail has gone into the quality of the production. However “Mirror Mirror”  differs as  it presents a traditional fairytale/Disney feel to its mise-en-scene with plenty of bright colours and extravagant costumes. The world presented feels magical with a surreal effect and meets prior expectations of how this type of fairytale should look. There are some intriguing visuals such as the use of puppets and the royal costumes being reminiscent of the Capitol people from “The Hunger Games” (2012). There are breathtaking shots of the castle and the lake surrounding it as well as the snowy landscapes of the woods.

Even though “Mirror Mirror” appears like a traditional fairytale, the dialogue indicates otherwise. All the characters are very self-aware of their archtypes in this type of story and constantly critique their actions. The speech in place is very post-modern, therefore rather than being compared to “Huntsman” it could be argued that the film it shares a stronger comparison with is “Enchanted” (2007). The use of the word “Adventures” in the title heavily suggests that Snow White is going to be the strong, heroine and to expect some action in the film.  This again challenges the notion of Snow White being the beautiful princess who needs rescuing by the strong, handsome Prince, therefore reversing traditional roles and furthermore updating the story for a new generation. In a sense Snow White is portrayed like a female Robin Hood as she fights for the poor against the wealthy in order to regain her kingdom. The Prince on the other hand is morally weak as he becomes subjected to a love spell by the Queen and is the one who needs to be saved.

The cast in the film is incredible. Lily Collins shines as Snow White, she is a likeable and identifiable protagonist, pulling off the role well. She allegedly auditioned to play “Snow White” in “Huntsman” but lost out to Kristen Stewart, it is hard to say whether she would have suited the darker portrayal of the princess, but there is no doubt that she wasn’t perfect in her role in this adaptation. Julia Roberts makes a fantastic villainess as the Wicked Queen. Her performance was delightfully over the top with a perfect brand of humour added in, she is almost like a pantomime villain throughout the majority of the film. “Mirror Mirror” is marketed as being told from the perspective of the Queen’s character, however as the story unfolds it is just the typical tale of “Snow White” with a few updated twists thrown in. It would have been interesting if they had gone down the route of the up and coming “Maleficent”  (2014) and told the story from the villain’s point of view. Having the Queen’s reflection as the mirror was an interesting choice, displaying her concious and showing there is a moral side to her somewhere, she just chooses to ignore it for her own benefit. The Queen uses sorcery in order to control her kingdom, she can temporarily make people fall in love with her or attack her enemies with giant puppets, she is however vulnerable as the film teaches their are consequence’s for all actions, questioning if the Queen is prepared to deal with the weight of that.

Nathan Lane plays Brighton, the “Huntsman” style character however in this version he’s a baron, having the huntsman absent from the film was a smart move so it could differ from the other film of its kind. Julia and Nathan have great chemistry between them and deliver much of the humorous moments of the film. The absolute highlight are the dwarves, each of their individual personalities shine through and each of them have a real connection with Snow White which is nice to watch. The sequence of Snow White living with them is included and they are the main contribution to making Snow White the stronger heroine that she becomes. Armie Hammer is also brilliant in the role as the Prince, expect to see every Disney cliché in his character.

“Mirror Mirror” is a fun fantasy fairytale that ticks all the right boxes, its sharp and witty, very cheesy and predictable in some aspects but a great family film.

The overall verdict, if you’re looking for something dark and gritty then stick with “Snow White and the Huntsman”, but this is the one if you’re after something a bit more tongue in cheek and light hearted.

Hayley Alice Roberts.