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A couple of months ago, my wife Karen sang the praises of “Mirror Mirror” as a funny fairy tale romp in and out of the woods with funny Nathan Lane, funny Armie Hammer and funny Julia Roberts hamming it up. I think it’s safe to say Karen would not like “Snow White and the Huntsman”, where serious Kristen Stewart, serious Charlize Theron and serious Chris Hemsworth serious their way through the Dark Forest. This is not unlike last year’s “Red Riding Hood”, another fairy tale serious-ed up for the “Twilight” audience.
Disney has ingrained in our heads this light and frothy, sing-songy Snow White tale, but this film is more in line with the original Grimm’s fairy tale that I’ve never read. The Evil Queen is actually Snow White’s stepmom. All this time, I thought Snow White needed a prince to wake her from her sleep, but turns out SHE’S royalty, a princess with a new mom to hate on. The Queen has to literally suck the life out of young girls to maintain her beauty and youthfulness, all the while conquering the fantasy land of Wherever with her army of soldiers made of shattered glass. Seriously.
Did you know in the in the original Grimm story, when the Queen is vanquished, she is forced to wear heated iron shoes and dance until she drops dead? Yeah, not here, when we could instead have an action scene with special effects! I think that’s the gotcha scene when the kids are asked by their parents if they read the book, when in fact, they only saw this.
There’s a lot of whatever going on in this movie. The evil Queen kinda shouts her powers out as she goes along. “I can do this! But I can’t do this”, etc. Whatever. The Magic Mirror she talks to walks around while they have a conversation, looking like the T-1000 in “Terminator 2”. Seems like a special effect to do just cause they can. Whatever. There are eight dwarves. Whatever. And to the notion that Kristen Stewart’s Snow White would ever be fairer or hotter than Charlize Theron – WHATEVER.
The dwarves are played by an all-star cast of British character actors – Ian McShane, Toby Jones, Eddie Marsan, Nick Frost, many of them speaking a nearly-unintelligible thick British/Cockney/Scottish mix. But sadly, the great Bob Hoskins can’t save his character, a blind dwarf whose job it is to say stuffy movie lines with a straight face like “She’s the One” and “This Cannot Be”. That’s kind of the problem with the script overall. It’s an interesting concept to see the original world the Brothers’ Grimm imagined up on the screen, but it’s coupled with dialogue that’s not very special and devoid of any real charisma. Kristen Stewart has a rather by-the-numbers army-rallying speech that doesn’t help with her stuck-in-“Twilight” delivery. In contrast, Theron has a blast being evil and twisted and somewhat tortured, too. There’s also a great archer in the film, which is all the rage – “The Hunger Games”, “The Avengers” and the upcoming “Brave” – archers are the new meteor-headed-towards-earth, everybody’s doing it.
I’m always a fan of a movie taking itself seriously, and not goofing around. I’ll take “Casino Royale” with Daniel Craig over any of the late Roger Moore James Bond films. But this one may have gone too serious. There is an abundance of slow motion photography to remind you of the prestigiousness of the battle you’re watching.
Surprisingly, this is NOT in 3D. Anytime I hear now that a film will take place in a “magical world”, I’m ready for that world to come tumbling into my lap, but not in this case.
I sat through the end credits, and with all the locations and special effects on display, the credits go on for quite some time, but in the end it’s A LOT of credits to a make a movie that’s OK. Whatever.
Directed by: Rupert Sanders
Release Date: June 1, 2012
Run Time: 127 Minutes
Distributor: Universal Studios