Mirror, mirror on the wall, which is the fairest film of all? Sadly, it’s not Mirror Mirror, a retelling of the classic fairy tale Snow White starring Julia Roberts and newcomer Lily Collins as Snow White.
In an attempt to put a new spin on a well-known tale, Mirror Mirror introduces some never-before-seen characters—an eccentric servant Brighton (Nathan Lane) and a beast that lives in the woods and terrorizes the village. Although Lane’s character doesn’t have much of an impact on the film one way or another, the beast was an element the screenplay could have done without. Mirror Mirror’s trailers and movie poster suggest that Roberts’ evil queen is the film’s antagonist, but with the inclusion of the beast, her presence turns out to be something of a red herring. The traditional poison apple—a symbol of the fairy tale—was not given the attention it deserved, and would disappoint an audience excited to see a childhood cartoon brought to life.
Similarly, the story changed other little pieces of the classic tale that should have been left alone. The dwarves’ names have been changed—there’s no Doc or Happy, replaced instead by Half-Pint and Wolf. If done for some purpose, it would be appropriate to make such a change, but as it stands, the names were different just to be different. Mirror Mirror isn’t a more creative or daring film for all its cosmetic deviations from the original story; if anything, these changes just make us long for a more traditional take, which is why they shouldn’t have been there. The instances of filmmakers taking liberties with classic stories and, in the process, enriching and expanding on the meaning of their source material are too numerous too mention, but Mirror Mirror isn’t among them.
That said, Mirror Mirror is visually stunning. The costumes are spectacular, the settings beautifully crafted. The fight scenes were intense, and the villains looked incredible on screen. Although the plot may feel no more substantial than an appetizer, the visual aspects of this movie were worth feasting on.
As adaptations go, Mirror Mirror is no match for 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, though it doesn’t warrant a refund from the theater. Ultimately, Mirror Mirror’s problem is that it’s neither the Snow White you’ve always imagined nor Snow White you never could.