The Hollywood ‘thing’ at the moment seems to be the fairytale. Not content with leaving stories of Big Bad Wolves and Three Little Pigs to the books that children learn to read from, the bigwigs have decided that these sinisterly charming tales need a big screen makeover. Hence how Mirror Mirror – based on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves – came into being.
Starring Julia Roberts as the wicked Queen and rising heart-throb Armie Hammer as dashing Prince Alcott, the film marks the second major role for Lily Collins (daughter of musician Phil and proud owner of The Eyebrows) after last summer’s Abduction. She makes a convincing Snow White and holds her own both as a trapped princess and as an independent, newly-empowered woman – ‘you read so many stories where the prince saves the princess,’ she says. ‘It’s time we changed that ending.’
The setting is some fantastical land – the kind of place that is vague in terms of location and, er, year, but that we know is magical because everyone wears strange hats and fears the equally odd dragon-like creature that lurks in the woods.
The film is fun, and do not be put off by the fact that the most of the audience are under the age of 12. Much like The Muppets movie, Mirror Mirror is all about the subtle humour – the digs and jokes that sail over the heads of the oblivious kids and have the adults in stitches (‘love is passing me the potatoes’).
The only problem with this story is that we all know it already. Snow White is banished, there’s a talking mirror, a wicked queen (who conveniently doubles as a witch), a charming prince, seven dwarves… Blah, blah, blah. But somehow Mirror Mirror manages to make it a new story, injecting a thoroughly 21st century perspective into this old tale. It feels revitalised and maintains its morals without seeming too preachy, and there isn’t a hi-ho, hi-ho in sight.
That said, remember to pack your sick bag for the moment at the end where the presumed-dead King – played, bizarrely, by Sean Bean – makes a sudden reappearance. So the part-dragon, part-cat, part-snake thing didn’t eat him after all – hurrah!
One last thing: it’s pretty rare these days – or any days, really – that a pair of eyebrows basically make a movie. Yes, really. Lily Collins has the most impressive ‘brows I’ve ever seen. No wonder Julia Roberts’ queen was jel of Snow White. Mirror mirror, on the wall, who has the best eyebrows of them all…?