Saturday, 20 April 2013

Mirror Mirror (2012)

Sometimes two films with similar themes will come out at more or less the same time as each other. Antz and A Bug's Life came out within a few months of other. The Matrix and Equilibrium came out within a few months of each other. The Prestige and The Illusionist came out in the same year. In 2012 we had two Snow White films: Mirror Mirror came out first and that was followed by Snow White and the Huntsman a few months later. Of the two Snow White and the Huntsman did far better at the box office, making $396 million worldwide compared to Mirror Mirror's $166 million. However, the critical and audience reactions to both of the films were far more mixed. The majority of the critics felt that Mirror Mirror was visually stunning but they also felt it was silly and lacking in depth and originality. However some dissenting critics out there liked Mirror Mirror and it does have a slightly higher rating on than Snow White and the Huntsman.

I really didn't think I'd like Mirror Mirror. This was mainly because of its rubbish trailer that had the "Snow way!" line (thankfully that line isn't actually in the film). Mirror Mirror isn't slightly better than Snow White and the Huntsman though, I think it's much better! In the end I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed this film!

In Mirror Mirror Snow White's mother dies and her father then marries another woman, the Evil Queen (Julia Roberts). Snow White's father than goes off to fight a great evil and mysteriously vanishes. He is never seen or heard of again. The Evil Queen then takes the throne and rules in his absence for 10 years. She also keeps Snow White locked up in the castle during this time but Mirror Mirror's Snow White (Lily Collins) has an easier time of it than Snow White and the Huntsman's Snow White. Mirror Mirror's Snow White still gets to sleep in a beautiful bedroom and still gets to roam around the castle and talk to people. However, Snow White decides to violate her house arrest for one day so she can see her kingdom. She sneaks out of the castle and bumps into the charming, handsome and wealthy Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) in the forest. They go their separate ways but they're instantly smitten. Alcott then shows up at Snow White's castle as he's been robbed by bandit dwarfs and wants to seek shelter. The Queen instantly makes plans to marry Alcott when she finds out that he's from a wealthy kingdom and is filled with jealousy when she sees Snow White and Alcott talking together. She then orders her manservant to take Snow White to the forest and feed her to the Beast that lives there. The manservant spares Snow White though and she ends up meeting the Dwarfs. Snow White befriends the Dwarfs and they soon make plans to defy the Queen. This gives Snow White the chance to remove the Queen from the throne, save her kingdom, and find true love.

Mirror Mirror is the polar opposite of Snow White and the Huntsman. It's much more family-friendly and it never ever tries to be a dark adaptation of the admittedly dark Grimm Brothers fairytale. Instead Mirror Mirror is more of a live-action, modernised update of the classic Disney film. It even has Nathan Lane (Timon from The Lion King) starring in it as the Evil Queen's servant and long-time Disney composer Alan Menken providing the music. Mirror Mirror is much more light-hearted than Snow White and the Huntsman and there's no gritty realism in it whatsoever. Instead the film positively embraces the fact that it's based on a fairytale. It has a beautiful animated opening, a clifftop castle, a mysterious beast that lives in a forest, and extravagant parties with vibrant costumes and lavish production values. The director Tarsem Singh is known for being very visually inventive and the film is bursting with light and colour. The costumes and sets in this film are gorgeous, especially the costumes which bagged the film an Oscar nomination. I loved the visuals in this film and it was such a nice contrast to the dark and dreary-looking Snow White and the Huntsman. I really don't understand why Mirror Mirror has been criticised for being lacking in originality and inventiveness either. In Mirror Mirror the Queen actually goes inside the Mirror and is transported into a different world. She literally becomes consumed by her own appearance. The Dwarfs use stilts to make themselves look like giants. There's a scene where the Evil Queen tries to kill Snow White with some giant, wooden puppets. When we see the Beast it looks like a bizarre hybrid between a dog, a snake and a dragon. There's even a Bollywood-style song and dance number at the end of the film!

The acting is far better in Mirror Mirror than it is in Snow White and the Huntsman as well. In this film Snow White is played by Lily Collins, who's actually the daughter of Phil Collins. Even though I haven't seen her acting in anything else I think Collins is a pretty good actress from watching this film. Her Snow White is certainly far more likeable and appealing than Kristen Stewart's Snow White. Lily Collins' Snow White is adorable, innocent, kind, brave, resourceful, clever and funny. She kicks ass a lot more convincingly than Kristen Stewart's too. They actually bothered to throw in a training montage in this film! Collins is hands down the better Snow White and she even looks the part more than Kristen Stewart. That's not to say that Kristen Stewart isn't attractive but Collins is really beautiful and I think she looks a little bit like Audrey Hepburn.

Snow White's love-interest in this film is Prince Alcott. He's played by Armie Hammer who is probably most famous for playing the Winklevoss Twins in The Social Network. Hammer provides some comic relief, his character is likeable, and he and Collins have great chemistry. Surprisingly even Julia Roberts is good in this film! I've never been a Julia Roberts fan and I've always thought she was a very overrated actress. After seeing her in this film I still don't think she's a great actress but she did give the sort of performance that this film needed and she clearly had a lot of fun. Another great thing about Mirror Mirror is that the Dwarfs get much more screentime in this film than the Dwarfs in Snow White and the Huntsman, and their characters are much better fleshed-out too. OK they're still not massively well-developed characters but you do get much more of a sense of their individual personalities. It's really nice that the Dwarfs are actually played by Dwarfs as well.

Mirror Mirror certainly isn't a masterpiece and I still had some issues with it. Not all of the "funny" bits are actually funny and, yes, the film is a bit silly and cheesy at times. Also, even though Mirror Mirror seems to be set somewhere in Europe almost everyone has an American accent in it. However I still really enjoyed this film. It doesn't take itself too seriously and it's charming, funny and entertaining. It had me laughing out loud at times. Mirror Mirror also features superb visuals and engaging performances. You get the sense that the actors really enjoyed making this film and I actually cared about the characters. Oh, and there's a great cameo at the end as well!

Rating: 4/5


Geneva said...

I really like this movie too. It's so fun and sweet and it doesn't take itself too seriously. And I love the Bollywood ending! It's such a happy, fun way to cap it off. The whole movie actually makes me think of Pushing Daisies with all the color and goofiness. Now that I think about it, it's funny that I made that connection because Tarsem Singh also Directed The Fall with Lee Pace. If you haven't seen that movie, you really need to. As you can guess, because of Singh, it is just gorgeous!

The only thing likeable about Snow White and the Huntsman is some pretty CGI and both the actors playing her love interests.

Hannah said...

I know! I desperately want to watch The Fall! I might watch it this weekend actually :)

The only things that I liked about Snow White and the Huntsman were Charlize Theron, the special effects and the Florence + the Machine song over the end credits. I thought Sam Claflin was pretty wooden in the film but he really surprised me in Catching Fire. I thought he was great in that. I really like Chris Hemsworth as an actor but I couldn't get past his bad Scottish accent in the film.

Geneva said...

Yeah, I wouldn't say either of the men acted especially well in the movie, they are just nice to watch. :)