As the lights dimmed on the crowded press screening, all the chatter revolved around the other Snow White movie – Snow White and the Huntsmen. Talk of Charlize Theron and Kristen Stewart dominated the conversation right up until the film started. Then immediately after the film ended, the conversation still steered back to Theron and KStew. Mirror Mirror will always be in its shadow, despite coming out first, thanks to a lackluster marketing campaign that is now predominantly resting on positive word of mouth. Those trailers may have done some irreparable damage since it’s so hard to shake a bad first impression, as many would say that’s what John Carter fell victim to.
However, while dealing with the same source material, these are obviously very different films and it honestly doesn’t belong in its shadow. Mirror Mirror is a light, enjoyable retelling of the fairy tale that’s good for all ages, as it was meant to be. Featuring amazingly vibrant colors, earnest performances from all involved, and adding just enough of a twist on the tale to keep things interesting – I was pleasantly surprised.
Lily Collins is a beautiful Snow White, highlighting her softness and youth while growing into a stronger Snow White than I was honestly expecting. Classic fairy tales dictate that women need to be saved, but this had a nice modern slant to it with the bandit angle. Speaking of the bandits, they were nowhere near as gimmicky and one-liner driven as the trailers would have you believe. In fact, many of the lines from the trailer like “Snow White? Snow way!” and “Say hello to my little friend” are even in the movie. I’m not sure if they were in the trailers in a misguided step to draw in the audiences or if they were in the film and then edited out once the backlash started. Either way, the dwarves turned out to not only provide some legitimate humor, but were a major contributor to the plot and shaping Snow into a believable young woman on a mission.
Directed by Tarsem Singh, it was a given that the visuals would be amazing. Eye popping color, fantastic costumes, a fully imagined world beyond the castle all contribute to make it a visual stunner. When Singh gets his hands on a script worthy of his talents, it’s incredible (just go watch The Fall right now). However, this is definitely not at that same level. The film was enjoyable enough, but there were many jokes that fell flat and the pacing of the second half could have been picked up a bit. And then there’s that horrible credit musical number. This was in the trailers and then when the film ended I thought that was yet another thing that had hit the cutting room floor. It definitely should have. Movies have done the musical closing credit sequence successfully before, just look at Bend it Like Beckham, but ending on this note just leaves a bad taste in your mouth. It’s not exactly the parting thought you want the audience to go home with.
To sum up, forget the terrible trailers and trust the high Rotten Tomatoes score and the positive buzz. There was a big disparity between the marketing and the finished product, but Singh created a beautiful, family-friendly, funny flick that should be seen on the big screen to capture all the amazing visuals in play. Catch it while it’s still in theaters.