With an imposing rival in the form of June’s Snow White And The Huntsman and a series of, quite frankly, awful trailers it is all too easy to imagine Mirror Mirror being overlooked and failing to set the box office alight. But Tarsem has made a spectacular film which dazzles and amuses in all the right places, all the while remaining gloriously magical set against Alan ‘Disney’ Menken’s fairytale compositions.
A film that would perhaps have been better suited to a Christmas release, Mirror Mirror is bold and confident from the start, Tarsem never once loosening the reins on his magical world and characters. From the enchanting animation that opens the film right through to the brilliant use of credits, the world we are exposed to never once loses its excitement or integral charm, with the director’s love for symmetry once again guaranteeing numerous iconic snapshots.
Although the Grimm’s Tale is one that may have become a little exhausted, this idea is mocked throughout, with parallels to the original story introduced to the biting script in the form of sharp in-jokes and certain key parts of the familiar story missed out entirely. Add to this the exquisite and at times hilarious costumes (look out for the chess scene and a hare being overtaken by a tortoise) by the late Eiko Ishioka, and the story of Snow White keeps its authentic fairytale label while ably mixed with contemporary features such as the borderline steampunk way in which the Dwarves roam the forest.
As the film’s title may suggest, the focus is not on Snow White, but instead The Queen, with Julia Roberts having an absolute ball and in turn hilarious and manipulative, her discordant Queen working in perfect harmony with the rest of the cast and forming a surprisingly unerring duo with the always reliable Nathan Lane.
While Lily Collins is the weak link and may appear little more than a pretty face for the most part, she grows along with Snow and adopts a boisterous energy once she becomes part of the Dwarves’ gang. The Seven (with names you may not expect) are an absolute delight, never feeling like a group of actors thrown together, instead appearing to know one another – and their respective irritations – inside out. While the training sessions provide us with enjoyable montages, it’s a shame that it takes until the credits for Collins to completely let loose. But Snow is quintessentially prim and proper, after all.
It is Armie Hammer, though, that steals the show, quite obviously born to play a dashing Prince and forming another of the film’s brilliant but unfortunately all too short duos with Robert Emms’ Renbock. Once again relishing the opportunity to be both charismatic and witty, Hammer’s beguiling Prince Alcott is wonderfully restrained in his humour until he takes on the characteristics of a dog, showing just how much more we have yet to discover about the actor.
Not a complete Tarsem film without its signature fight scenes, Mirror Mirror is far more relaxed in its approach, but the swordplay remains highly imaginative and assumes a dance like quality when set to the dialogue of the sparring Snow White and Prince. This is assisted chiefly by the film’s editing which is tautly executed throughout, ensuring the pace never drags and the comic timing remains perfect.
If you fully embrace and immerse yourself in the fairytale world that Tarsem has embellished to within an inch of its life, you will discover a film where the sly jokes and double entendres scattered throughout work effortlessly in tandem with the story of a Princess you won’t mind your little girls idolising.
A glittery Hollywood pantomime where the fun is instantly infectious, Mirror Mirror is never boring, though the stiller parts of the final third may slow a little when it’s not set amidst complete madness. An all too welcome addition to a sorely lacking genre, Mirror Mirror is a well-rounded and fully engaging must-see that thoroughly deserves to stand the test of time as a classic adventure for the whole family.