Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Movie #420: Mirror, Mirror

Mirror, Mirror is a retelling/reimagining of the Snow White myth, starring Lily Collins, Julia Roberts, Nathan Lane, Armie Hammer, Martin Klebber, Danny Woodburn, and Lisa Robert Gillan.

The movie focuses more on the Queen (Roberts) than on Snow White (Collins) as far as POV goes, but it's really the same story: The evil queen wants to remain the fairest in the land, but as her stepdaughter grows up it becomes obvious that she's going to get outstripped. Meanwhile, she taxes her people into poverty, relying on vague attacks from a "beast" to keep people afraid. Snow White, meanwhile, is kept to her room, until one day she goes walkabout and gets ambushed by seven bandits, who turn out to be dwarves, led by Butcher (Klebber) and Grimm (Woodburn).

Said dwarves have previously ambushed and trussed an adventure-seeking prince (Hammer), who the queen promptly drugs with a love potion, attempts to marry, loses to Snow White (who frees him with a kiss, in a nice little subversion). The dwarves teach Snow to fight, and she eventually does confront the beast, who, it turns out, is her father (Sean Bean), enslaved by the queen.

There's a lot going on here, I realize as I write this up, and most of it works. There are other assorted bits - Nathan Lane plays the queen's scummy little assistant, the prince's love potion makes him think he's a puppy (serious props to Armie Hammer for committing to that), but the best part of this movie is Roberts as the queen. She's evil, no question - she's quite willing to have people killed and she's utterly remorseless - but she's not detached about it, either. She's excited on her wedding day to the prince, she's angry when Snow bests her, and she inhabits the role in a way that's a lot more visceral than such villains often get played.

A really interesting bit: When the queen uses the titular mirror, she enters a little pocket realm inhabited by her reflection, which you'd think would be played by Roberts. Instead, though, they cast her sister (Gillan), who looks really similar, but just different enough that she takes on this ethereal otherness next to the queen. Nice effect.

Also, the whole thing ends with a Bollywood number (it's directed by Tarsem Singh), which was a fun touch. If I have a complaint, it's that the beast doesn't show up until the very end, and up until then it's kind of an afterthought. Generally, though, it's funny and light and enjoyable.

My Grade: B+
Rewatch value: Medium-high

Next up: Misery