The first of two versions of the Snow White story to make it to cinemas in 2012, this is the more family-oriented one (as opposed to the Kristen Stewart-starring action/adventure Snow White And The Huntsman), a fantasy adventure for the over-eights that looks spectacular thanks to the direction of Tarsem Singh (The Immortals).
Snow White (Collins, daughter of drummer Phil) lives in a towering castle with her stepmother the Queen (Roberts), who taxes the villagers heavily to pay for her sumptuous costumes, innovative beauty treatments (her bee-stung lips are produced by being stung by real bees) and endless parties. Unfortunately her right-hand man Brighton (Lane) informs the Queen that she’s broke, so when Prince Alcott (Hammer) shows up at the castle she decides to marry him and solve her financial problems. However, he’s already met the lovely Snow White in the forest when he was set upon by cheerful bandits (the seven dwarfs) and she came to his rescue.
It’s an enjoyable, modern reworking of the classic Grimm tale, owing more to movies like Stardust and The Princess Bride than Disney’s Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. New elements include a scary CGI creature in the woods to beware of, the dwarfs teaching Snow the art of combat, and the Queen’s magic mirror as an alter ego in a far off place (a striking sequence in the movie) but familiar moments are included too (yes, there is a poisoned apple).
While the script isn’t quite as witty as it could have been, there are some funny moments and snappy lines (many delivered by Roberts or Lane), smart action and fun for the boys, and the Audrey Hepburn-esque Collins is the right mix of cute and tough that will appeal to girls. Hammer looks pretty and takes his shirt off a lot, and Mark Povinelli steals scenes as lovestruck dwarf Half Pint, but in the end the movie belongs to Julia Roberts, resplendent in her amazing costumes, bitchy, funny, witty and wonderful. She’s worth the price of admission alone.
Is Mirror Mirror suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Young viewers may find the scene with the beast in the woods frightening.
A scene in which the Queen uses puppets to move life-size marionettes may scare the under-8s.