If there’s one thing to be said about Mirror Mirror, Tarsem Singh’s campy retelling of the Grimm Brothers fairytale Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, it’s that everyone in it seems to be having so much fun! Particularly Julia Roberts, who stars as the Evil Queen, from whose perspective the story is told. Embracing the part with relish, Roberts delivers a delicious performance as the vain, insecure despot who loathes her beautiful stepdaughter, and taxes the local peasants into starvation to fund her extravagant lifestyle.
Lily Collins plays Snow White, but she’s no tragic princess pining in a tower; she escapes from the Evil Queen’s watch, meets seven thieving dwarves, wins their affection, and is trained by them in martial arts. Meanwhile, Armie Hammer (of The Social Network) strikes all the right notes as the handsome and somewhat goofy prince, who is repeatedly captured and stripped down to his long-johns by the cunning dwarves.
A sumptuous visual affair, not unlike Singh’s earlier films, Mirror Mirror has gorgeous set design and some of the craziest costumes you’ll see on screen. There are some nice twists too – like the Evil Queen’s cougar-like flirtation with the Prince, and the kiss that Snow White lands on the Prince to pull him out of a slumber and not the other way around…but it all just seems different for the sake of being different, clever for the sake of being clever, never in service to the story.
Occasionally the dialogue works, but for the most part it’s flat. Where the film spectacularly fails is in creating enough fireworks between Snow White and the Evil Queen, and in fully realizing the relationship between Snow White and the dwarves…which, if you think of it, was really the whole point of the fairytale.
I’m going with two out of five for Mirror Mirror. The film serves up some striking visuals that’ll be hard to get out of your head. If only there was more to it.