Mirror Mirror (2012)

Mirror Mirror
Director: Tarsem Singh
Writer: Jason Keller, Melisa Wallack
Based on: the Snow White fairy tale
Cast: Lily Collins, Julia Roberts, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane, Jordan Prentice, Mark Povinelli, Joe Gnoffo, Danny Woodburn, Sebastian Saraceno, Martin Klebba, Ronald Lee Clark, Sean Bean

Princess Snow White (Lily Collins) has been living imprisoned in her own castle ever since The Queen (Julia Roberts) took over after the death of The King. The Queen has been milking the country and is running out of funds for her lifestyle. When the young Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) comes to her queendom, she thinks that she found a way out. It’s only too bad that Alcott falls in love with Snow White and that at the same time, Snow White’s political conscience awakens.

Mirror Mirror has the beautiful looks usual for a Tarsem Singh movie (the costumes… the freaking costumes!), but it also has the story-telling weaknesses and the quality generally wavers a lot. Nevertheless, fun was being had.

[Slightly SPOILERy]

This movie really looked absolutely beautiful (that’s one of its major selling points and it was barely included in the trailer – explain that to me…). But apart from the looks – just look at the animal costumes in the ballroom scene or the costumes in general or the castle itself or the dwarves’ house – it has a few things going for it.

Foremost there’s Julia Roberts who is brilliant as the evil Queen. Delightful and bitchy and snarky and oh so funny. She’s wonderful. And the way she reacts to Armie Hammer (“Just get this man a shirt so that I can focus!”), so very spot on. [But, honestly, from a feminist stand point, this would deserve further analysis.]

I also really liked the dwarves, even though they still didn’t manage to take them seriously* and Nathan Lane (Brighton) was brilliant for the most part. Unfortunately, the script really couldn’t keep up with all of that. And so you get rape jokes (yes, plural – Brighton gets turned into a cockroach and then raped by a grasshopper, which is funny because he’s a guy I guess? And the first kiss between Snow White and the Prince is just disconcerting – she forces herself on him, after preparing creepily for her first romantic kiss, because he is under a spell and it is the right thing to do and therefore it doesn’t matter that they have to tie him up and he keeps saying “no, no, no” all the way through), a Prince who is pretty much an ass (when he fights with Snow White he doesn’t beat her – he humiliates her and makes fun of her and her reaction to it is “he’s so cute”) and a princess who spent her entire life in her room in the castle surrounded by servants but when she gets to the dwarves’ place she immediately knows how to cook them a feast and make everything look beautiful. Because she’s a woman I guess?

So, there are issues – issues that could fill an entire feminist critique [maybe I should write that]. But there’s also shirtless Armie Hammer. [Who btw manages very well to look uncomfortable because of the Queen’s objectification of him but unfortunately they don’t really manage to follow this through and now I feel kind of bad for thinking along the same lines.]

Summarising: The film is fun and I enjoyed myself. But issues, people, so many issues.

*At some point, I’m going to write a Snow White version where the prince is not necessary to save her, the dwarves are not just comic relief – and also not all in love with Snow White; or if they are have it not treated as only a joke – and the Queen is not pure evil; but I knew that this wasn’t going to be the film I’d get here.

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