For the second installment of my short movie review series, I’ve decided to focus on what I like to call a “Disney adjacent” film: the 2012 Mirror Mirror. No it’s not produced or distributed by Disney, but it is a lively and colorful retelling of a classic Disney animated film.
I missed the excitement about this the first time around because the movie premiered in March 2012: the same weekend that Hunger Games opened. Priorities, people. But I am so glad that I caught it when it came out on video in late August because I was completely beguiled by this high-spirited, laugh-out-loud delight.
For starters, the costuming and settings are breathtaking—the moldings alone were enough to command my attention. The clothing, hats and wigs were large and over the top, like a bowl full of multi-colored gumballs: shiny, colorful and hard with pleasantly rounded edges.
I’m not one of those people who believes that Julia Roberts is always pitch perfect, but in this case, I really, really liked her, even when she was being super evil. Charming isn’t quite the right word, but she is certainly appealing in her nastiness. It’s easy to question her motives, but if you can suspend your disbelief (you are watching a fairy tale, after all), and just accept her as illogically, insanely mean, you will be well rewarded.
Her magical bells and whistles were also something to write home about: instead of the story-standard magic mirror, she walks through the looking glass to materialize herself at a very Baba-Yaga-esque hut, where her bidding is attended to by her own mirror image. The most beautifully dark tool in her sometimes comically-flawed magical arsenal are a pair of golem puppets she uses to track down Snow White in the woods. Their effect is chilling, as is a late-in-the-game appearance by the poisoned apple.
Snow White herself is sassy and smart. She’s not the feminist icon I was hoping for, but she is much stronger and much more wickedly rebellious than her Disney counterpart. She’s certainly far more capable than her prince, but not nearly as charismatic as her seven small friends. The dwarves are fleshed-out and fascinating, and they move with the ease and grace of ballet dancers when they go “off to work.”
Snow’s prince is as much a comic foil as he is a manly hero (“This is how it is, it’s been focus-grouped to death, people like it this way,” he tells Snow when she tries to save herself). She’s not his equal; she’s absolutely his better, and ultimately, it is Snow who defeats the Beast and banishes the Evil Queen.
A final word of advice: don’t let Lily Collins’ eyebrows distract you. After about 20 minutes, you won’t even notice them. You’ll only see those full red lips and quirky raven bangs. I totally have a girl crush on her.
What is your favorite retelling of Snow White? Did you like Mirror Mirror? Join the conversation!