For those unaware or unfamiliar with the story of Snow White, Julia Roberts’ narration opens the film recounting the traditional tale of a young girl abandoned in the forest by her wicked stepmother and adopted by a troop of dwarves. However, if you’re expecting a saccharine, family-friendly, ‘love conquers all evil’ type film…then hang in there because despite its aims to undo cliche and stereotype, this is after all a fairtytale.
That’s to not to say this isn’t a thoroughly enjoyable film. Julia Robert’s as the evil stepmother running the kingdom into ruin with her decadence, greed and vanity relishes each snide remark she delivers with bite. Whilst Lily Collins as the innocent Snow White serves more than adequately as the beautiful young Princess, this time with a bit more feist and teenage angst. Though she can never match the acting prowess of her co-star, both are utterly believable in their roles.
Set with the task of finding another rich suitor to avoid financial despair, the evil Queen focuses her attentions on the charming, affluent and might I add, often shirtless, Prince of Valencia, played by Armie Hammer (of ‘The Social Network’ fame). But as luck and tradition would have it he fancies the virginal Snow White. The fact that he looks about 30 and Collins about 17 is a tad unnerving. However in an attempt to rework convention and perhaps liberate the stereotype of the Princess being the damsel-in-distress, it is often she that must save him rather than the other way around. The seven dwarves are this time around thieving bandits who fancy their chances with Snow and teach her how to fight, not very well though it must be said.
The narrative itself isn’t particularly strong, with many plot-holes forming along the way, however the perfomances, along with some stunning costumes and set-pieces make this a sumptuous, rollicking comedy, if a little style-over-substance. The quips come frequently and are more hit than miss and I’ll admit to laughing out loud on more than one occasion. The third act does however falter slightly with an added dose of ridiculousness including Hammer being turned into a puppy and the running time starting to feel somewhat lengthy.
Although the ending reverts back to tradition with startling conformity, you can’t help but admire the film’s delight in its own silliness. The final scene take on a Slumdog Millionaire-esque tone with out of place dance moves and almost too cheest for words techno-pop song. But whether you groan at its awkwardness or smile at the sheer gaiety of it all, it must be said this is a film that will leave you smiling.
Verdict: Not as revolutionary or refreshing as it would like to be, but consummate performances from a delightful ensemble cast and amusement galore make this deliciously camp fun.