We all know that Snow White was dragged out of her peaceful fairy-tale heaven and made over twice this year – once in Snow White & the Huntsman and once in Mirror, Mirror. (To read my review on Snow White & the Huntsman, click here.) You can almost imagine the poor babe plucked from her world of children’s imaginations and that Happily Ever After she fought so hard for, only to be trussed up in Hollywood’s latest attempt to continue making movies. Let’s face it – Hollywood is, for the most part, out of ideas. We have not only seen several recreations of Spiderman, Batman, Superman, all Marvel comics basically. Let’s throw that Green Lantern movie into the mix, the Avengers, Iron Man – I mean, come on. What’s here that we haven’t seen before?
So here’s to our latest remake – Snow White, powder-puffed to whiteness and stuffed into dresses that look like impossible runway designs brought to life. Haute couture in the eighteenth century, when people were still using horse drawn carriages. Some of the outfits were truly interesting, and really brought home the point of the Queen’s ostentation vs. the kingdom’s poverty. But still, this is a movie drowning in flamboyant design elements and in need of a stiff shot of enchantment.
This rambling version of Snow White’s tale is a pretty, spun-sugar confection, airy as a plate of Easter egg-coloured macarons and similarly devoid of substance.
- Linda Barnard, Toronto Star
Like all Snow White movies, the evil Queen Ravenna is obsessed with staying young, only in this version, it is precisely this obsession which has led to the impoverishment of the kingdom. In a very literal sense, the common man pays for her beauty. She uses taxes to fund her poultices, face creams, intensive beauty treatments, along with her outrageous gowns and galas and balls. This desperately-young but surely aging Queen has a store of magic she’s just about used up, and an empty treasury to deal with. She resorts to the most Gossip Girl solution the scriptwriters could have come up with and decides to marry a rich young prince – who wait for it is also darling Snow White’s love interest.
- The fairy tale villainess subjects herself to a super-duper deluxe — and disgusting! — beauty treatment which involves fresh bird poop on her face, maggots in her ear, bumblebees on her lips, and even the sting of a scorpion.
Unlike in Snow White and the Huntsman (SW&H from here on), the Queen is not any icy cold grande beauty. Charlize Theron pulled off the whole so beautiful and dangerous vibe. Julia Roberts just ends up looking silly. It must be admitted that this is a comedic remake – the film was meant to be funny, but I would say somehow the funny just didn’t come through. Julia Roberts comes off looking as an actress who went from the graceful grandeur of Perfect Woman, and topping the Hollywood Reporter‘s annual “power list” of top-earning female stars from 2005 to 2006… to an aging actress playing a childishly immature role in a substandard movie. Her performance is not of a powerful, devious, wretched Queen, but of a whiny kid – spoiled, silly and frankly, a little wimpy. If that’s what the role called for, then bravo.
- The difference between the two movies and the two roles is clear. Each called for a different sort of acting, and both actresses embodied different characters.
Also, unlike SW&H, this ‘pretty to look at, but hard to keep watching’ remake features a clearly defined Prince Charming. The prince is Armie Hammer, the stunner who played both Twinklevoss twins in the Zuckerburg-bashing The Social Network. There’s no confusion and frankly, there’s no huntsman. I was personally disappointed by Hammer. This role as the dumbstruck prince only furthers the Twinklevoss image of a blonde rich kid without much sense and brilliance. A dumb blonde, so to speak. The big, slow one.
The story is also twisted to keep Daddy Dearest alive, and he makes an emotional comeback towards the end of the film, which in true dramatic fashion, the queen withers away. The dwarfs play a much more prominent role in this film, having cool leg-extending boots that make them seem like giants. They take Snow in, and have a referendum as to whether or not she’s allowed to stay.
Lily Collins’ acting as Snow White was great – she did a nice job of portraying innocence, purity and resolve. When she is given the idea to venture out of the castle to see the townspeople, she portrays innocence embodied, as if it had never even occurred to her that she could do this. She is apparently completely lost in her own world, and before being told that the Queen is wretched, believed that she ran the kingdom fairly. Ridiculously enough, when she tries to leave, the Darth Vader-esque guards have no idea whether she is allowed to do so or not, and decided they won’t ‘tell on each other’.
I also thought the dwarfs were pretty awesome. They play their role to the fullest, angered at any discrimination towards short people, compassionate yet gruff, loving yet skilled fighters. If any of the movie actually comes out as a successful comedy, it’s the dwarfs who pull it off. One of the dwarfs seems to be skilled in the act of applying makeup, and gives Snow a new look, complete with strawberry lipstick.
- Snow White & her dwarfs
Just like SW&H put a twist on the magical mirror, Mirror, Mirror does the same. Not only do you have to slide through a ripply secret entryway, but you also emerge with a 360 degree flip out of an endless sea and must walk up a wooden plank gangway to a secret hut where the mirror is enclosed, and staring up out of that mirror in Queenie’s alter ego herself.
The townspeople are a poor, sad folk – no talk of rebellion, which seemed a bit silly. I mean, if you’ve got a queen who spends more on her facials than you do on a week’s food, wouldn’t you be rebelling? Somewhere in the midst of this failed comedy, the queen’s adviser turns into a cockroach, Snow White dresses up like a swan, and the prince makes an appearance in his underpants. You’re left with a feeling of blandness.
Mirror Mirror is a film that’s all picture and no propulsion, each scene static in a basic set-decoration color scheme of teabag and banana.
- Liza Shwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly