Snow White is a classic story by the Brothers Grimm that’s old enough to be in the public domain, so there are several adaptations of the tale. Disney would like you to believe theirs is the authoritative release (although apparently not enough to take it out of “the vault” to actually offer it for sale), but there are at least dozens of other versions of the story. In fact, one of the trailers before Mirror Mirror was for Snow White and the Huntsman, scheduled for release this June. If there is to be room for another telling of this story, then it needs to provide some unique perspective, and the UK version of the film is marketed as “Mirror Mirror: The Untold Adventures of Snow White“, so I was foolish enough to believe that they might bring something new to the table. But it’s primarily just a retelling of the traditional story.
In this version, Lily Collins plays Snow White, a princess whose father the king (played by Sean Bean) is beloved by everyone. Her mother died in childbirth, and while her father provided her with everything she could ever hope for, he realized the need for a female influence in her life, and he eventually married a new queen (Julia Roberts) to fill that role. But as characters played by Sean Bean are wont to do, the king met his end in the forest surrounding the castle and the queen took control of the land. This should have been just a temporary arrangement until Snow White was old enough to succeed her father, but the queen loved her power, loved keeping Snow White locked in her room, and loved throwing lavish parties using tax money collected from her subjects.
When she turned 18, Snow White managed to escape from her room and made her way out of the castle, where she was shocked to learn about what a dismal place the kingdom had become. She was also surprised to encounter a couple of men who had been tied up and robbed by bandits. She would later learn that the better looking of the two men was a prince from another land (played by Arnie Hammer), and the bandits were actually dwarves (who disguised themselves and wore stilts) that had been scorned by the queen. When the queen learned of Snow White’s expedition and the effect she had on the prince, she decided to send Snow White to her death and take the prince for herself.
Even if it shares much of the story, Mirror Mirror isn’t just a live-action version of the Disney cartoon. For example, the dwarves have different names (Butcher, Chuckles, Grimm, Grub, Half Pint, Napoleon, and Wolf), and Snow White isn’t fed a poisoned apple. It’s also hard to believe that even a magic mirror would consider Julia Roberts prettier than Lily Collins, although perhaps it was just being respectful until she was 18. But the differences aren’t so substantial as to warrant yet another version of the story. And because you know pretty much exactly what’s coming, there’s very little excitement to be had, and it makes some lame but ultimately unsuccessful attempts at comedy. There’s really no compelling reason to watch the film, but if you do want to see it then I doubt it would lose anything significant by waiting to see it on the small screen.