Greetings again from the darkness. Fairy Tales. The Brothers Grimm. Expectations for a delightful story and fascinating characters should not be doused. Blah is the best word I have for this version of the classic children’s story. The “updated” story is a mess, the characters are quite bland, and the few sets are limited in scope. On the bright side, the costumes are colorful and, for a change, disliking Julia Roberts will not place me in the minority … she is after all, the evil Queen.
It seems logical that a classic fairy tale movie should be either designed for kids, enhanced for adults, or a mixture of each (The Princess Bride comes to mind). Despite being one of the most beloved stories of all time, this one appears to have been made for an audience not consisting of kids or adults. I spent much of the movie distracted by Julia Roberts’ lips and Lily Collins eyebrows. Both are characters unto themselves. Julia Roberts should be the perfect evil Queen, but she seemed to put forth little effort with her lines … an odd mix of sarcasm for a kids’ movie. Lily Collins (daughter of Phil) is just bland. She has no screen presence at all and is swallowed up in her scenes with Roberts, Armie Hammer (the Prince) and the band of dwarves.
There are so many things I could comment on, but most would be negative, so I’ll just (mostly) leave it alone. Being a fan of director Tarsem Singh (The Fall), there were moments where his remarkable eye for colorful visuals provided hope, but the lack of quality story-telling was just too much to overcome. The evil Queen spa treatment just seemed to be a one-off idea that got stuck into the film … scorpion and bee stings, parrot poop, and grub worms in ears probably seemed comical on the page. Not so much on the screen. The story has always made a statement on the quest for eternal beauty/youth, but this queen just comes across as desperate. It was nice to see Danny Woodburn (Mickey on “Seinfeld”) as one of the dwarves, and I thought Armie Hammer found the proper chord in his performance. As a viewer, stick to the 1937 Disney version, or hold out hope for the much darker version coming out later this year, Snow White and the Huntsman (with Kristen Stewart).
SEE THIS MOVIE IF: you want to see how a creative director can turn a fascinating fairy tale into a bland ball at the palace.
SKIP THIS MOVIE IF: you have young kids … they probably won’t enjoy it, laugh much or even be frightened of the witch.
watch the trailer: