Once upon a time, kids’ films relished putting the frighteners on the little darlings. But like conkers, scaring children seems to have fallen foul of ’elf ’n’ safety touchy-feely-ness. Even the wicked stepmother (Julia Roberts) in this visually stunning live action ‘Snow White’ is not so much evil incarnate as a Bitch with a capital B. A cougar, she’s got her claws set on Snow White’s Prince Charming (Armie Hammer). ‘He’s rich and built like an ox,’ she sighs lustily. Plenty seem to be taking kindly to ‘Mirror Mirror’ as a fresh and funny film that works for parents and kids, but for me, its knowing sarcasm felt like more of the same lazy humour that passes for funny in so many PG films.
Snow (she’s dropped the White) is a princess in the revisionist mould – not a simperer but a swashbuckler. She’s sent into the forest with a blundering lackey, not a huntsman, after complaining about the lot of the peasants. Lily (daughter of Phil) Collins is pleasant in the role, but it’s Roberts who’s the star, camping it up outrageously in dazzling costumes. ‘Mirror Mirror’ is as gaudily spectacular as you expect if you’ve seen director Tarsem Singh’s films, ‘The Fall’ and ‘Immortals’.
As for the dwarves, they’ve fallen into bad habits since Disney. Dressed like ninjas, they’re bandits, tricking victims into believing they’re giants with extendable legs. The swords and thievery have clearly been added to lure boys into the cinema. Judging by the dad I spotted patting his son on the shoulder (‘Next time we’ll see a boys’ film’), I’m not sure it worked.