Wednesday, 14 November 2012



Occasionally it just happens that we get two (sometimes more - remember the three Columbus movies back in 1992?) movies on the same subject that turn up within a few months of each other. Two giant volcano movies (Volcano and Dante's Peak), two Robin Hood movies (Patrick Bergin and Kevin Costner), two meteor movies (Armageddon and Deep Impact). 2012's contribution to the coincidental cinema releases were a brace of Snow White movies - in addition to Snow White And The Huntsman (with Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth, the latter playing the role as a Scotsman for no earthly reason), there's Tarsem Singh Dhandwar's visually opulent and more comedic take on the fairy tale.

Despite the subtitle "The Untold Adventures Of Snow White" (which doesn't actually appear on the film itself), Mirror Mirror is more accurately The Oft-Told Adventures: on her 18th birthday the beautiful princess Snow White (Lily Collins) is sent to her death in the scary forest by the evil queen (Julia Roberts), but the minion can't bring himself to kill her; she meets up with seven dwarfs and a handsome prince (Armie Hammer), and returns to claim the throne and restore peace and prosperity to the suffering citizens.

It may not have the depth of Snow White And The Huntsman (which is not to suggest that movie had much in the way of depth to begin with), but it has an unhinged visual richness to it. Tarsem's main strength has been fabulous imagery - see The Cell and The Fall: both pretty uninteresting as movies but totally bonkers on the sets, costumes and landscapes, and Immortals had nothing going for it but its look - and the production design, wigs and frocks are absolutely first rate. It's also more comedic: Nathan Lane getting most of the humour as the evil queen's cowardly Number 2, Michael Lerner playing a Baron as George C Scott, silly love potions and the Prince losing his clothes.

It's likeable and amusing enough, but there's really not very much going on underneath the pretty packaging and on balance Snow White And The Huntsman is probably the better of the two films, for all Kristen Stewart's sulky dampness. Young kids would probably enjoy the Tarsem film more as it lacks the more horrific content - it's a PG rather than a 12/12A - while grownups will most likely tire of the opulence fairly quickly.


On reflection:

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