Reviewed by Alicia Glass
Studio: Relativity Media
MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Tarsem Singh
Review Rating: 7
A retelling of Snow White, where the dwarves are giant thieves, Charming runs around mostly-naked half the time, and Snow White can take care of herself!
I actually enjoyed it, and believe me, I didn’t expect to. After all, it’s Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen, and I didn’t think she’d be able to pull it off. The movie gave her a very different role for the Queen – she runs around in bright colors, threatens and swears like a sailor, and uses magic in unconventional ways – even for her. Despite the fact that the movie itself is named after the magic mirror, instead of having some genie-type male worshipper stuck in her magic glass, there in the magicked hut out in the middle of nowhere, her magic glass holds only a reflection of herself, absent the gems and makeup and all, warning against all and cautioning temperance and the high cost of magic used. Which was a bold move, but I think it worked out in the end.
So, fairly standard story to begin with, Snow White’s father the King loses his wife in childbirth and searches the land high and low for a new wife, apparently gifting her with a magic moon necklace when he finally finds the right one and marries her. Inevitably, soonish thereafter, some evil blight crosses the land in the form of a big bad monster, and the King has to ride out to face it, never to be seen or heard from again. Now the Queen’s in charge of the land, which she taxes to hell and gone to pay for her lavish parties, all the while telling the common people that it’s to protect against the beast that stalks them at night. Snow White lives in a virtual tower, away from her people and under the iron thumb of her stepmother the Queen, until the eve of her 18th birthday for some reason, where she decides to see things outside the castle for herself. Prince Alcott is a visitor from Valencia (as in Spain? really?) who of course immediately the Queen wants to woo and marry, for filthy lucre if nothing else, despite the fact that when she first meets him, he’s virtually naked and a charmingly awkward hunk. The Queen just has to throw a ball welcoming the Prince, and jealous as always, has to not invite Snow White, who what the hell, decides to crash the party anyways with some help from the Help. The theme of the ball appears to be Alice in Wonderland, where the Prince gets forcibly dressed as the White Rabbit complete with the ears, and of course the Queen is a trumped up frumpery red peacock version of the Red Queen. I don’t know why Snow showed as a Swan, but she did look real nice. From the fallout of the ball, Snow falls in with the seven dwarves, whom I decided I just adore. The seven of them – Napoleon, Half Pint, Grub, Grimm, Wolf, Butcher and Chuckles – are actually thieves, not miners, and they’ve made their own stilt contraptions to make them taller than everyone else! And they teach Snow self-reliance, swordplay, sleight of hand and all sorts of other tricks to help her take back her kingdom from the terrible Queen before she marries the hapless Prince Snow’s already fallen in love with! Of course, there’s a few confrontations concerning the Queen’s wedding (to which she shows up in this frock that looks like a white swan ate her), and angry swordfighting and cheating with magics and whatnot. The very last confrontation, concerning the Beast that’s been terrorizing the town and it’s final just desserts, was sadly rather predictable for me, but then pathetically most movies are these days. That’s just me, you may not get it. The beast itself was an interesting creature, all CGI’d up to look like, to my eyes, some kind of maddened Chimera.
It’s not a bad movie, all in all. Rather modern in their speech and expressions, but the story setting and clothes and even mannerisms are for the most part the same old Snow White storybook setting. The director Tarsem Singh is apparently a refugee from the Bollywood world, as you can clearly tell from the very last scene, where Snow and her pals do the love song and dance. Charming, or rather Arnie Hammer as Prince Alcott, is certainly charming in his own flustered way – but it did rather seem to me that the movie went out of it’s way to make him the anti-hero of the story, the butt of every joke, half naked half the time, and even in real puppy love. Poor thing. There is always Sean Bean to take into account, yum, andNathan Lane as the head toadyBrightonfor the Queen, he’ll make you laugh no matter who you are. Lily Collins is Snow White herself – fine acting, but she seriously needed an eyebrow wax for the first half of the movie, and the dress she got married in I really liked – a strange combination of storybook, modern, and bold Bollywood colors to make it sing!