Mirror Mirror
Snow White 2012, Part 1

It seems that Hollywood likes to do things in pairs.  Remember the pair of asteroid movies in 1998?  Or how about the competing movies about ants that same year?  And the two movies about Truman Capote that came out between 2005 and 2006?  Well, this year’s pair is a couple of big-screen adaptations of the Snow White tale.  There’s the more hardcore, Lord of the Rings-style Snow White and the Huntsman due this June, but first out of the gate is Mirror Mirror, which aims to be more fantastical, colorful, and family-friendly.

Even though the fairy tale is named for Snow White, the movie opens with the Evil Queen convincing us that this is her story we are watching.  Of course, with megastar Julia Roberts in the role, it kind of is her story; in this version, anyway.  For a while, the movie actually feels more like the tale of Robin Hood than that of Snow White.  In order to raise money to throw ridiculously lavish parties, the Queen raises the taxes on the already starving townsfolk and sends her put-upon servant to collect.

This same servant was also in charge of taking Snow into the dark forest and killing her, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it.  This places Snow in the woods where she meets the seven thieving dwarfs.  Once she gains their trust, she becomes their leader, but insists that they only steal from the rich—meaning, the Queen—and give to the poor.  One of the dwarfs’ first victim is the charming Prince Alcott, who is immediately drawn to Snow White—she is the fairest in the land, after all—but the Queen has her own ideas about who the Prince should fall in love with, and the Queen is not above cheating.

Lily Collins as Snow White in Mirror, MirrorJulia Roberts is definitely the draw here and she definitely has some fun hamming it up as a villain.  She also sports some insanely extravagant costumes that were reportedly very difficult for her to move in, and it is very easy to see why.  The costumes in Mirror Mirror turned out to be the last work of the late costume designer Eiko Ishioka and her work is likely to be a contender come next year’s Academy Awards if for no other reason than the sheer volume of ornate costumes featured in this movie.  Fashionistas could have a field day examining the bright, colorful costumes that adorn this movie’s characters, costumes that seem destined to be compared to those of the citizens of the Capitol in the recently released Hunger Games movie.

For the rest of us, however, there is not much reason to see Mirror Mirror.  As fanciful as the costumes are, they are offset by the rather drab plot.  Maybe it is just because I grew up with the Disney version, but I couldn’t help but think that the movie might have been aided by adding a few songs.  It was colorful enough that they would have fit right in, but they are completely absent from the storytelling.  Strangely enough, there is a Bollywood-esque dance number in the end credits, but it is too little, too late.

Outside of one fun, Princess Bride-like swordfight between Snow and the Prince, the action scenes aren’t all that interesting.  The most awkward one is when the dwarfs’ home is attacked by some black magic-fueled marionettes.

This movie does aim to be family friendly, however, and the kids in the audience seemed to be enjoying it.  There is some good humor to be found, mostly thanks to the dwarfs.  Roberts also has some funny lines and the movie leans a bit towards gross-out humor in one makeover scene.  Meanwhile, Lily Collins and Armie Hammer do little to stand out as Snow White and her Prince Charming.

Some people may find it cute, but for many MirrorMirror will likely leave them hoping for better things from the year’s other Snow White movie.  Or maybe they’ll just go home and watch the Disney version.  That might actually be the best alternative.

Mirror Mirror is rated PG for “some fantasy action and mild rude humor.”  The “rude humor” is probably what inspires the PG rating, but I’d argue that the G-rated Disney version is actually scarier.

Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of Mirror Mirror.