Directed by: Tarsem Singh
Starring: Lily Collins, Julia Roberts, Nathan Lane, Armie Hammer, Sean Bean
This retelling of the Snow White story is less “Whistle While You Work” and more “Welcome to the Jungle” as the sweet and gentle Snow White becomes a kick ass heroine working with renegade dwarves to steal back the townspeople’s money, which has been taken from them in whimsical taxes laid down by the Queen. Throw into the mix a wealthy handsome Prince, whom the Queen sets her sights on after he has fallen in love with Snow White, and you have a recipe for a very modern take on this tale.
There’s no point explaining the plot as there can’t be anyone who doesn’t know the story and this stays pretty true to it – although artistic license is taken in some quarters (in a reversal of roles it is the Princess who saves the Prince with a kiss!). From the opening animated sequence this film looks stunning and the bold colours, gorgeous costumes and lavish sets continue this theme throughout. Lily Collins (daughter of pop star Phil) takes on the role of the gamine heroine. Although her first notable role, Collins acquits herself well opposite Oscar winner Julia Roberts, who is excellent as the wicked Queen. Usually seen in more “good girl” roles, she seems to relish getting in touch with her inner baddie. Many actresses of a lesser calibre would have been tempted to take this character into panto villain territory but Roberts resists that urge and instead plays her as deeply insecure (although admittedly psychotic). Even Armie Hammer, who hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in previous movies, is very watchable here as Prince Andrew Alcott and may well have found his forte in a more comedic role.
The seven dwarves are brilliantly cast and bounce off each other perfectly. Every single one of them gives a fabulous performance that never descends into parody or stereotype. Of course it does help that the first time we meet them here they are working as thieves and bandits rather than the miners they are so usually portrayed as.
At times this is slightly twee but you would expect that of any fairytale adaptation. However, on the whole it is hugely entertaining and provides pure escapism from the opening credits. It won’t be to everybody’s taste but if you’re in the mood for a bit of colourful whimsy then this is the movie for you.