3/5 stars

I have to admit, I’ve been far more interested in seeing Charlize Theron’s Snow White and the Huntsman than Julia Roberts’ Mirror Mirror. I was initially intrigued by casting reports, which included The Social Network’s ArmieHammer, but the trailers left me less than excited. Fortunately, I was wrong. Mirror Mirror turned out to be a family friendly, enjoyable, life-lesson-filled giggle fest.

The film follows the classic tale of a young Snow White (Lily Collins), with hair as dark as night and skin as white as snow, who is despised by her stepmother. The malicious Queen (Julia Roberts) takes over the kingdom after Snow’s father mysteriously disappears into the Dark Forest, all while nursing her bruised ego as she steadily loses grip on her reign as fairest of them all to, you guessed it, Snow.

After being locked away in a tower until her 18th birthday, Snow flees the castle to visit her beloved townspeople, only to discover that they are impoverished and near death. Thus begins the story of the young woman who seeks atonement for her people and vengeance on the evil Queen.

Enter young Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer), who the Queen seeks to marry for glory and money, but who only has eyes for Snow. Banished from the castle, Snow is saved by seven suitors, better known as the seven dwarves.

Here’s the main deviation from the original story: the dwarves go by Napoleon, Half-Pint, Grub and Grimm as opposed to Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy and Doc. In her pursuit for her rightful throne, Snow learns to fight for herself, stop the Prince’s marriage with the Queen, have her first kiss and save her kingdom. And, as it turns out, the man-eating beast trolling the Dark Forest is Snow’s father turned hideous dragon by the Queen, who of course is saved by Snow as she rips the beast’s binding chains off and turns her father back into a man.

Tarsem Singh Dhandwar (Immortals andCurious Case of Benjamin Button) takes plenty of artistic liberties as director, most of which add to this contemporary comedy set to the stage of the classic fairytale, from the Queen’s “mirror mirror” being an actual reflection of herself, a metaphor sometimes lost on the younger target audiences of the story, to the almost complete absence of the poison apple.

Dhandwar allows Snow to fight for herself and become the heroine of her own story,  which is a message that should be passed on to girls and women watching the film. But other changes, like adding the Bollywood singing and dancing number at the end of the film, fail to enrich the modern take on the Grimm fairy tale, making us long for the original.

Fortunately, Julia Roberts is pleasantly less of an overdone caricature than I feared and more of an all-ages evil queen, one mean enough to frighten the kiddies, but comical enough for those of us taking said kiddies to see the film.

And not to be forgotten, Neil Lane steps in as the Queen’s bumbling servant, a pleasant — albeit not entirely necessary — addition to the cast. That being said, Mirror Mirror’s Oscar nomination goes to visual presentation, with intricate costumes and beautifully crafted sets. These features alone makeMirror Mirror worth watching — along with the numerous shirtless Armie Hammer scenes. roberts

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