Fairytale to movie review: Mirror, Mirror

***CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS***

Fairytale remakes seem to be en vogue right now. Last year, there was Red Riding Hood, Beastly and I read on GreenBeanTeenQueen‘s blog that there’s a Beauty and the Beast TV show in the works.

Mirror, Mirror with Julia Roberts as the evil stepmother and Lily Collins as Snow White premiered yesterday, just a few months before Snow White and the Huntsman, which comes out in June.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, which is the best Snow White adaptation of them all?

Of course, we will have to wait until this summer to answer the question, but my bet is on Snow White and the Huntsman, despite my lack of enthusiasm for any movie with Kristen Stewart. I saw Mirror, Mirror last night and it wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t fantastic, either. I guess between these two adaptations, it will really depend on what you’re looking for.

With so many fairytale movies out there, it begs the question: what is the appeal of these retellings? I think people can easily identify with fairytales because they know them so well already and they speak to universal themes. Also, these tales have strong visual components, for example, the bright red apple featured in Snow White or the sharp needle on the spinning wheel in Sleeping Beauty. These iconic images (along with fabulous, elaborate costumes) give the filmmakers a chance to create a visually stunning motion picture.

Mirror, Mirror is rated PG, but there is nothing in it that is objectionable, in fact many of the viewers I saw last night were tweens, or a bit younger. I must admit that I was interested in seeing the movie for the dresses. I knew that going in, so I was prepared for the kind of experience I got (and the dresses were more than I could have dreamed of). During the first part of the movie, I thought “Wow, this is actually a retelling of Snow White. There’s no twist or anything.”

If the movie had continued in that vein, I would not have enjoyed it very much. Besides creating a visually stunning motion picture (as I mentioned above) fairytale retellings also have the opportunity to show a different side to the classic story. The example that instantly springs to mind is the book Wicked by Gregory Maguire. These stories are interesting because they give a voice to another character or change another aspect of the fairytale in some way.

So, what was the twist to Mirror, Mirror? Snow White sees right through her stepmother’s disguise and does not bite the poisoned apple. Therefore, she doesn’t need to be saved by the prince. She informs him (when she is in another dangerous situation) that the princess will be the hero this time. It’s always refreshing to see a strong female lead in movie, especially in a fairytale, where women are known for being damsels in distress, not saving the kingdom. However, I didn’t really respond to the girl power, probably because I was still thinking about the awesomeness that is Katniss Everdeen (who was kicking butt and taking names in the next theater over) and let’s face it, few girls can compete with the Mockingjay.

From what I’ve heard about Snow White and the Huntsman, the movie will tell the “true story” of Snow White. I’m expecting a grittier movie, more special effects, and huge armies on horseback (from what I’ve seen in the preview) and much less “happily ever after.” At first, I had little desire to see this remake, but after seeing the preview, I must say, I’m intrigued.

That said, I did actually enjoy Mirror, Mirror. The dwarfs (played by every famous little person actor you can think of) were surprisingly funny. The dresses, as I mentioned, were amazing:

I think I would have really, really liked this movie when I was a tween. When I was about twelve years old, a Cinderella adaptation called Ever After came out in theaters. I loved that movie when I saw it then, but watching it years later (yes, I own it) isn’t quite the same. I noticed how certain characters drop their fake British accents twenty minutes into the movie and the major, obvious plot holes. Being older, these things bother me although twelve year old me was just happy to watch what I thought of as a “grown-up version of Cinderella.” So, I suspect that twelve year old girls will go to this movie with their friends and be excited to see a “grown-up version of Snow White.” For the rest of you (who aren’t drawn to the theater by the promise of elaborate gowns) the premiere of Snow White and the Huntsman is only a couple of months away.

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