Thursday, May 03, 2012
Movie Review - Mirror Mirror
I'm going to assume everybody knows the fairy tale of Snow White and so dispense with those plot points. I'm also going to try and avoid spoilers for where this movie significantly diverges from the plot of the fairy tale. In addition to changes in plot and character descriptions/behaviors, this movie also took the presentation in a way I didn't expect.
My wife pointed out to me later that it had a Bollywood style to it…and I have to agree. Looking back over the colors, the pacing, the nature of of the characters and the scenes, it definitely had that Bollywood feel to it. And if you have any doubt, just stick around at the very end of the movie for the musical number as the credits begin to roll…definitely reminiscent of some Bollywood flicks I've seen.
I really liked the narrative style of this movie. It actually begins with an introductory narration from Julia Roberts…as the queen. Right away it became clear that this story was taking a slightly different tone than that of the fairy tale. The queen's narration is self-important, sarcastic and snarky. She points out that this is HER story and that Snow White is really just a meaningless addendum. I love the way she spins the initial backstory of the tale…how she was this caring loving woman whose hand was forced by a series of inexplicable events.
In many ways, the initial scenes felt more like a Cinderella tale than a Snow White tale. As we meet Snow, she is essentially held prisoner within her own castle, friends only with the servants and animals, and kept in check by the heavy thumb of her evil stepmother. Granted, a lot of the fairy tales blend together in plot, but for some reason the presentation felt much more Cinderella than Snow White to me.
Anyway, I also really loved the scenes in which we get to know more about the nature of the queen through her behavior and involvement in the actions of the kingdom and the court. Her condescending manner to everyone around her is very humorous and over the top.
My main difficulty was in trying to figure out WHY the members of the court didn't try to get her ousted. Even though it was fairly clear that everybody despised her, nobody seemed brave enough to try and stand up to her. I guess maybe they're afraid that she'd have them stripped of their title and riches? Granted, later in the film, we see how she takes out her anger against those who do upset her, but it doesn't seem like anybody is aware that she actually took any actions at all.
As the story goes on, we follow the basic fairy tale plot…Snow White offends the Queen (though in the movie, it's not just due to her beauty) and is chased out of the castle to be killed by a servant of the Queen who actually lets her live. She stumbles across the cottage of Seven Dwarves. In case it hadn't already been apparent that the story was not going to be 100% true to the fairy tale, we meet the dwarves and find out that they are actually a band of thieves who rampage around the forest terrorizing and robbing from anybody who comes along.
I wasn't sure at first if the dwarves were going to be "bad guys" or not. I think the early scenes of the movie allowed for this possibility but instead they become sort of anti-heroes. They truly are highwaymen and revel in their thievery. But as the story progresses, we see that they're generally good at heart and actually have an almost tragic backstory that has pushed them into a life of crime. Once we break through the thinly vicious facade of the dwarves, they turn into the comically lovable characters we know from other Snow White tales…full of silly behavior and banter.
We actually meet the dwarves early on in the film…prior to Snow White meeting them. We meet them at the same time the Prince meets them…or rather, at the same time he is accosted by them, robbed and left hanging half clothed from a tree. The prince's character certainly gained more depth than he usually has in fairy tales. After all, in fairy tales, the prince often exists solely as the "end goal" for the heroine. He doesn't often do much other than serve as a husband for the princess and he usually earns that distinction through "love at first sight" or some other fairy tale notion.
The film did just fine at turning Snow White into a strong female character…it didn't need to turn the male characters into weak buffoons in order to help drive the point home. I agree that Fairy Tales all too often stereotype and pull girls down to second-tier people who just look pretty and wait to be rescued. But instead of turning this completely on its head (making them into princesses who not only don't need to be rescued, but they have to rescue the prince because he can't do it on his own), let's have the girls and guys work together to make each other great and then combine their equally awesome power to take on the big bad antagonist of the film. Anyway…end of (smaller) soap box.
Overall this was a fun fairy tale and an entertaining new take on the Snow White story. While the other Snow White movie coming out this year (Snow White and the Huntsman) looks to be darker and more adventurous, Mirror Mirror is a fun and whimsical family friendly movie.
3.5 out of 5 stars
Today's Quote from Quoting Quotes: