Saturday, March 31, 2012

Movie Review: Mirror Mirror

Lily Collins and Julia Roberts
Mirror Mirror (2012)
Directed by: Tarsem Singh
Starring: Lily Collins, Julia Roberts, Nathan Lane and Armie Hammer

I reviewed this film for Next Projection.

Who is the fairest of them all? In a year when not one, but two, updates of the classic Snow While tale are getting big screen reboots, Tarsem Singh's quirky entry is the first out of the gate. With a plucky charm that will delight its young viewers, Mirror Mirror looks and sounds like it was lifted straight from the imagination of its target audience.

The film delves into familiar territory from the classic fairy tale while adding a modern twist. The sugary sweet Snow White (Lily Collins) transforms from a weak-willed subject beholden to her cruel, throne-snatching stepmother (Julia Roberts) and blossoms into a strong, determined young woman who can defend both herself and her beloved Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer). Singh makes his Snow a legitimate heroine -- one who can more than hold her own when confronted with adversity. It's a refreshing take on a fairy tale that once placed far too much emphasis on the childlike innocence and weakness of its female lead.

Mirror Mirror is a playful diversion and, while it may on occasion resort to childish jokes and visual gags that will leave parents rolling their eyes, all is forgiven due to its enjoyable cast of characters.

Lily Collins and Armie Hammer
The cast is evidently having the time of their lives, infusing an addictive energy into a loopy script that includes a Bollywood sequence, more than a few plot holes and a rushed conclusion.

Roberts plays against type with her trashy, campy performance as the villainous queen. Her chemistry with Nathan Lane as her blustering sidekick garners the majority of laughs. But make no mistake; this films belongs to Snow and her star-crossed lover, Alcott. While Collins (daughter of Genesis' Phil Collins) may not be the strongest actress, there is no denying her effortless charm and the sweet toughness she brings to the role. She's an ideal heroine for the young girls in the audience. As Alcott, Hammer clearly relishes his pretty-boy role and lets loose a self-deprecating sense of humour, nailing a couple of his big comic scenes.

Mirror Mirror is a visual feast -- which is to be expected considering the man at the helm is none other than Tarsem Singh, he of cult favourites The Cell and The Fall. The flick boasts the most luscious set designs and outlandish costumes so far this year. Singh even added a couple of innovative twists to the tale that play into his emphasis on set production, including a universe within the magic mirror where the kind and wise alter ego of the power-hungry queen resides -- shut away from from the world while her darker side rules over the kingdom with an iron fist.

Mirror Mirror perfectly caters to its target audience -- the kids will love the extravagant sets and it's light-hearted tone. It's the rare family flick that will please parents as well. Despite its flaws Mirror Mirror is no rotten apple.