Choose Our Adventure: Mirror Mirror

Mirror Mirror is retelling of the story of Snow White.  This new version of the classic story tells about Queen Clementianna and how she uses taxes, intimidation and magic to evilly rule over her kingdom.  Snow White is indeed fair and meets a handsome prince and a band of dwarves but this version shows different sides to all who appear in one of the world’s most famous fairy tales.

Mirror Mirror was based on Snow White by the Brothers Grimm with story by Melissa Wallack and screenplay by Marc Klein and Jason Keller. It was directed by Tarsem Singh. The film features performances by Lily Collins, Julia Roberts, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane and Mare Winnigham

mirror mirror film poster

image from wikipedia

She Said: Mirror Mirror

We had a tie from our last “Choose Our Adventure” vote. Thanks again for sending us to Mirror Mirror for one of our adventures! I was so excited to see it. I have loved Snow White ever since I was a little girl. I always loved it because people used to tell me when I was little that I looked like Snow White (I still get that sometimes but I get a lot of Belle comments, too). Snow White was so sweet, brave and beautiful that I wanted to be like her. When I first heard about this movie I was so excited! Snow White and Julia Roberts! I was ready to go from the first time I heard about it so thank you, thank you for voting for it.

This movie is a retelling of Snow White but it’s not a particularly dramatic one. What I mean is that there is nothing here that is really a true shock from a character development perspective. It even states in the opening narration that it’s not Snow White’s story rather it’s the queen’s. That just isn’t true. We don’t see anything new with the exception of the queen’s actual direct competition for the prince. I was really bothered with some the elements of the last few minutes of the movie. There was so much sloppy storytelling in the last 15 minutes. I can’t tell you exactly what because I would ruin the movie for you!

I was really disappointed with the magic aspect of this movie. As a Christian I’m struggling and trying to define how I feel about the use of magic in movies. It’s a really tricky thing for me to figure out and I’m praying and trying to think my through what I think would be pleasing to God. Obviously, I understand that there are dark forces at work in this world but I don’t want to glorify or draw strength from them. I do think that traditional fairytales can serve, as a way to draw allusions to how much God loves us such as the sacrificial example Triton makes of himself in The Little Mermaid. But, I think that one needs to be very cautious about the portrayal of magic and characters that use it. Because the use of magic is something I am concerned with I had checked a Christian website whom I trust for a content filter (alerts about sensual stuff on screen, spiritual things in movies, etc.) and was assured the magic was presented in a form I would be okay with.  I felt very lied to.  Julia Roberts actually also plays the mirror in the story. It’s so creepy (and frankly doesn’t make any sense- how does a reflection of oneself able to carry out magic?). Julia Roberts appearance as this character is disturbingly CGI rendered. One of the scariest scenes I have seen in a movie in a long time occurs in this film with the “mirror self” manipulating some marionettes that appear in giant form in the world of the movie. It was really uncomfortable and seriously scary.

The acting in the movie ranged from wonderful to blah. I loved Lily Collins! She was a wonderful Snow white! She was funny, sweet, and brave.  I loved her!  Armie Hammer in addition to having a terrible name was not a great prince. He was okay but he wasn’t handsome. I could think his could be because I’m 6 years older than him and have always been attracted to more mature men- this kid is no George Clooney.  But, I think they could have found someone who was actually handsome and they definitely could have found someone genuine. I didn’t believe anything he said or did. And not liking or believing the prince kind of ruins a fairytale.  Nathan Lane was very good as the queen’s valet, Brighton. He was funny, sharp and very entertaining. Mare Winningham was saddled with the somewhat empty role of Baker Margaret. I felt bad for her that such a great actress would be given such a flat, boring role.

I was really happy that Julia Roberts was in this movie when I first heard about it. I thought it would be neat to see her stretch and play someone who wasn’t endearing. She did have a few strong interactions with Lily Collins that did show her talent to play against her typical role.  I didn’t realize until the movie started that because it was a fairytale that they might have her use a dialect. Julia Roberts is not capable of any dialect other than southern and her standard Julia (which is lightly tinged with southern). I was glad they only attempted a soft British dialect but it was very inconsistent and not very well done. I think she gave the role a lot of energy but I felt like I had seen everything she had to offer in the trailer. I didn’t see anything new or impressive from watching the whole movie. I attribute some of that to her not so great work here and some the really poor quality of story for the whole movie.

I did think that the portrayal of the dwarves was really cool! I thought that they all had much more developed personalities and their fighting scenes were very impressive.

Alan Menken did a great job with the music. It’s really not a surprise that he did another great princess soundtrack (The Little Mermaid, Tangled, Beauty and the Beast and a lot of other great works). He’ s a genius and he came up with another score that really set a frame for all the emotions of the piece. I love the Bollywood number finale. I’ve been singing it this morning.  I Believe in Love was really cool!

The film was visually stunning. The photography was lush and stimulating. The colors seemed to be sharper and almost able to touch. The snow was so real it really made me feel cold. And it seemed as though you could really taste and feel the strawberries!

The costumes in this movie were amazing! Stunning! Glorious! I love fashion and I love period costumes and this movie was a feast for the eyes. From the first moments of the movie I kept whispering, “the fabrics, look at them”, it was incredible. I have rarely seen such an amazing array of costumes. I loved so many of Lily Collins outfits (her fighting outfit, her opening outfit, her finale outfit, the swan dress!).  I’ve rarely seen movies where I wanted to touch the fabric and I felt like I could touch them. I really felt that I could feel the luster and heaviness of her hood.  Julia Roberts had some beautiful and amazing costumes bedecked with ruffles and feathers, too. Every costume in this film felt lovingly crafted and selected.  Eiko Ishioka designed the costumes in the film and sadly this was her last film because she passed away fairly recently. I’m glad that they dedicated the film to her. Because she put so much of her heart and so much work into costumes into this piece and I feel like she’s largely responsible for what makes the film so beautiful.

I wanted to like this movie. Actually I wanted to love it! I was wowed with the costumes the first time I saw them and I love Snow White!  However some poor storytelling, bad performances and the some of the creepy magic made this a movie I doubt I’ll watch again.

Rating- 3

He Said Mirror, Mirror

There certainly is a lot to the new retelling of the tale of Snow White.  There’s the evil Queen, dwarves, a prince straight out of central casting, and of course, Snow White herself.  But does it measure up as a good movie to see?

I have to give Marc Klein and Jason Keller credit for how creative they were with this retelling.  They manage a good job with taking all the elements that we know and love about Snow White, and using them, or turning them on their head somehow.  There are some plot holes, and some plot points that I think could have done better, but without their writing this movie could easily have fallen on its face.  They did a great job of making the dwarves individual characters that you actually care about.  It’s really refreshing for characters this short to not just be flat set pieces there for the laughs.  These feel like real people who have real people for doing what they do.  The character of the queen wasn’t given as much depth as I can see they’re aiming for.  Their interpretation of the titular mirror is partly to blame and is unfortunately befuddling, and uninteresting.  In aiming to create something different for a live action fairy tale, they create a mystical mystery that we never get the answers to with warnings like “There is a price for using magic” and “There’s magic in all people” that are never truly delivered upon.  Personally, I have no problem with blanket “fairytale magic” and sometimes when you try to explain it, you wind up with something far darker that bothers me much more as I attempt to watch things with Jesus in mind.  That’s what happened here.

This movie is visually stunning.  The costumes are brilliantly done.  The color palette is for the most part very saturated.  There is some great juxtaposition here between the beautiful lush garments of the gentry, and the muted dark dirty colors of the townspeople.  Snow White’s costumes are especially well done; making sure to stay well away from any previous versions we’ve seen of this character.  I didn’t like the design of the castle.  Overall, the Indian influence in the visuals of this movie really work, but to my western eye, the castle didn’t look regal, or very fortified.

The best part about this movie is the acting.  Lily Collins does a fine job of showing Snow White’s journey, but she does nothing to truly amaze.  Julia Roberts is disappointing as the Queen.  She really had an opportunity here to bring depth and frailty to this character that escaped her.  She still feels rather one-dimensional.  The real stars of this movie are Prince Andrew Alcott played by Armie Hammer and the dwarves played by Danny Woodburn, Martin Klebba, Sebastian Saraceno, Jordan Prentice, Mark Povinelli, Joe Gnoffo, and Ronald Lee Clark.  As I mentioned above Armie Hammer is cast wonderfully as a Disney prince.  He both looks and sounds like a cartoon.  When the world of Mirror, Mirror starts to become less clear he shows a great confusion and indignation about how things are unfolding.  All of the dwarves give performances they can be proud of for the rest of their careers. They all clearly have different backgrounds and histories that influence their current paths.

The fight choreography is a highlight as well.  The dwarves fighting on stilts is really impressive, and there’s a duel in the forest between Snow White and Prince Alcott is really fun to watch and showed some great sword craft.  It’s also refreshing to see fights that don’t have to be bloody for you to realize that the stakes are high to these people.  There’s also a really creepy scene with some very large marionettes that are out to kill Snow White (who strangely seem to want to hurt the dwarves more, even though that’s not their stated purpose) where the dwarves are very entertaining.

Overall, this movie has some plusses and minuses, but was an enjoyable experience.

Rating- 6