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Reflect on This - A review of Mirror, Mirror

Updated on January 4, 2013
Julia Roberts is the Wicked Queen and Lily Collins is Snow White in this adaptation of the classic fairy tale.
Julia Roberts is the Wicked Queen and Lily Collins is Snow White in this adaptation of the classic fairy tale.

A fractured retelling of this classic fairy tale plays well for the modern audience.

As Julia Roberts gets older, she is finding some of the juiciest roles to play on the "antagonist" side of the line and this is one of her best portrayals to date.

Here, she plays the wicked queen in a beautiful castle and a besotted kingdom that has become a shadow of it's former glory in the wake of it's monarch's opulence.

The only reason she is queen here is for the simple fact that her husband, the king, has disappeared under mysterious circumstances leaving her in charge, much to the chagrin of "the people who know the truth about her".

The queen's step daughter is Snow White (Lily Collins), a stunningly beautiful young woman who the queen abhors for exactly that reason...as she grows into womanhood, Snow is fast becoming the "fairest in the land".

In almost an allegory to the modern day, we see the richness and extravagance of the monarchy in stark contrast to the poverty in the village near the castle. The queen is spending the money faster than the subjects can replenish the coffers and unless she can find a mate with wealth to rebolster the treasury, the kingdom will flounder.

Enter Armie Hammer as a handsome prince who just could spell the end to the queen's difficulties - that is if she can get him to marry her before all is lost. And if she can banish Snow White to the remote woods where she can be killed by the same beast who evidently murdered her father, the king.

Nathan Lane, as always gets to steal more than his fair share of scenes as the queen's valet. However, this role lacks the edge of some his better characterizations. It's a good play for him and his character ends up being one of the likable ones in the end.

But the real scene stealers are the band of merry misfits who spend their time robbing travellers in the wilds between the castle and the village. They meet Snow and take her in when she has no place to go.

These guys are hysterical, and the movie deserves a repeat viewing just to see them again. Their hijinks are the stuff of legends. And you will never quite see the seven dwarves in the same way ever again, even if you just watch the Disney cartoon. (When I was viewing, I was trying to draw comparisons between the two groups and I think I just about have them figured out...)

And fans of movie fantasy films will love the extended cameo by an actor who is better recognized as an antagonist who gets to play a key protagonist at the film's conclusion. It's a great homage to a now legendary trilogy.

I love fractured fairy tales because they manage to take a familiar story and subtly twist the circumstances so that you still recognize the classic but can be entertained by the changes and this film perfectly fits that mold. It's not quite as good as "The Princess Bride", but fans of that movie will appreciate the lengths that are gone to to make this film in the same vein.

This is a film that refuses to take itself seriously and that's a good thing. In this day and age when wholesome family comedies are scarce and popular comedies are meanspirited and even downright rude, this film is a refreshing breath of fresh air in an otherwise uninspired theatric wasteland. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

What's your opinion?

What's the best fractured fairy tale on film to date?

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