We've seen countless variations on the traditional Snow White fable and while we're admittedly curious about Snow White and the Huntsman (mostly because we're hoping for the Evil Queen to win), this watered-down-for-kids version was entirely unnecessary. It seems that Mirror Mirror was trying really desperately to capture some of the flavor of Enchanted, but missed the mark by about 100 miles. And while this looks prettier and more lavish than Once Upon A Time, that show can be seen for free on TV and features a far more in-depth and creative retelling of the Snow White saga. So aside from the gorgeous costumes (the more outrageous of which suffer from coming out a week after The Hunger Games), the majority of the movie is entirely ridiculous. Let's break down the crazy for you.
Julia Roberts plays the seemingly Evil Queen, but portraying a threatening persona isn't her strong suit. And she doesn't have the sense to go so over the top that it comes across as campy. Mostly she seems a tad annoyed and insatiably horny. Her deeds may be horrible, but we rarely see any evidence that she can pull them off. She's responsible for the death of the King (Snow's dad), she's locked Snow (played by Lily Collins) in a tower and she's put all of her subjects into financial poverty so that she can throw lavish parties. She might have been better suited to randomly chopping off people's heads. As for the horny, she's looking for a sugar daddy to support her in the lifestyle she'd like to become accustomed to and she drools when she sees a shirtless Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) in her kingdom. Even her threats to Snow White don't come across as menacing. And her ever-changing/disappearing accent really does nothing at all to help matters.
Nathan Lane plays the queen's loyal henchman, but he's largely a bumbling idiot. We'd feel sorry for him, but he's done so many crappy things in his career that this is just one more. He honestly spends most of the film issuing the Queen's orders in the least convincing way possible.
The Super Shiny Puppets
Maybe it's just because we re-watched V for Vendetta recently, but there are these high-gloss puppets at the beginning of the film used to act out the introductory voiceover and they just give us the creeps... though they aren't supposed to. It seems like these scenes are aiming for something akin to the animated portions of Enchanted and if the puppets didn't all look dead in the eyes (can puppets Smize?), maybe it might have worked. They, and the attacking marionettes that come later in the film, seem remarkably out of place with the look and feel of everything else going on.
So, the mirror on the wall. Arguably the most important part of this tale, no? Or at least the driving force behind The Queen's motives. Here it's a mirror that opens a watery portal that leads the Queen to a little hut in a sea where she converses with her alter ego who knows how to do black magic. Yeah, we can't even begin to figure it out, but we sure do know that the super smooth CGI'd version of Julia Roberts is going to haunt our nightmares for a good long time.
They Renamed the Dwarves
Why? Were Happy and Dopey not good enough? It's fine to make them stilted bandits instead of hard-working miners, but to give them names like Napoleon and Half-Pint and Grub is just annoying. That said, these seven characters were the most likable in the entire movie (excluding the scene where they give Snow a wardrobe makeover)... even though Half-Pint's romantic advances with the barely 18-year-old woman who lives in a very small hovel with him and six others is a little bit disconcerting when you really think about it.
The Prince Barks Like a Dog
The Queen casts a spell on Prince Alcott in order to get him to fall for her instead of Snow White, but she gives him a puppy love potion. Cute, until you have to sit and watch Armie Hammer act like a dog for 30 minutes (barking, whimpering, licking people, humping legs... the whole bit). We can only presume that the real Winklevoss twins got their hands on the script and enacted some payback against Hammer for his unflattering portrayal of them in The Social Network.
Stealing From Other Fairy Tales
They tried hard to put a bit of a twist on the classic Snow White tale, giving her some sass and flare, which is uninspired at this point. And then they also decided that Snow White's tale on its own didn't have enough content, so they added a subplot where Snow's locked in a tower that's very reminiscent of Rapunzel's, there's an evil beast who roams the forest a la Beauty and the Beast and Snow forces her dwarf pals to rob from the rich and give to the poor, Robin Hood-style. It's far too muddled a mix. Let's keep our fairy tales straight, unless you are going for over-the-top Shrek or Into the Woods mash-ups.
When Is This Supposed to Take Place?
Aside from the Queen's accent coming and going, there's also the matter of the film not knowing what time period it's set in. One could argue that it isn't an anachronism if we're in a fantasy land, but if you are going to create sets that look old-fashioned and have everything work within those parameters, then you can't have knights pinky swearing, a queen looking for a caterer and modern jargon throughout the dialogue. It just takes us completely out of the film.
The characters are in a snow-covered village and yet the prince is stripped of his clothing and walks barefoot a number of times without any complaint or even shivering. At one point, the dwarves and Snow all sit outside at a picnic table to have dinner while it's snowing and no one seems to really be dressed accordingly. At least have the decency to pretend like the fake snow isn't fake.
The Bollywood Dance Number
It's impossible to spoil the ending of this fairy tale for anyone, but after the film seemingly ends... it keeps going and there's a Bollywood-style dance routine, complete with bright costumes, lots of dancing and Collins singing (though it could have been lip-synced). There's no other singing or dancing to speak of (not even any of the hi-ho variety), so this comes out of nowhere and is a head-scratcher, to be sure. There's nothing in the film that gives any indication that this might be where the film ends up, or that people might just bust out in song, but they do.
As for Collins, she was fine, if a little on the underwhelming side. Most of the ridiculousness happens around her, so that works in her favor. But even with all of this weirdness, the film never really comes together in any convincing way. And while it might be geared towards kids, honestly, we know some six-year-olds who would have been rolling their eyes at the absurdity on-screen.
Check out an interview with Armie Hammer.
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