Mirror Mirror 2012 ★★★★

A precocious little sister to EVER AFTER, this, surprisingly, is an across-the-board triumph. Tarsem bring his unfailing eye for color, composition and design to a sturdy flip-the-script story in which Snow White saves herself. That aspect is a little soft -- it's good to give Snow agency, but a little dull that what she does with her agency is rote screenplay heroics -- but the film compensates with legit laughs throughout. The dwarves' patter amuses, Armie Hammer's mid-movie transformation rollicks, and Julia Roberts' first grande dame is grand indeed. This is where the movie really heats up -- it's easy to be generically snide about beauty and vanity, and less easy to smear Julia Roberts' face with fresh shit. As Snow, Lily Collins convincingly transforms from high-born into a forest brigand with circus skills, and her beautiful-but-not-from-Maxim visage gives the movie weight it wouldn't have gotten from a central-casting ingenue. The movie would hold up better with a little less contemporary sass. An extra half-star for its lovely animated intro.

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