Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all? Between Mirror, Mirror, the other “Snow White” film to hit the theaters this year and Snow White and the Huntsman, this is the fairer one overall.
Setting out in epic fashion to tell the story of Snow White and the evil queen, director Rupert Sanders takes on the story and does so with confidence and a magical flare. He takes on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale and rather than trying to entertain children, he tells it with the intensity and fright that it was once intended to bring to children.
The film begins with young Snow White’s father, the King being murdered by Ravenna (Charlize Theron) on their wedding night. She imprisons his daughter Snow White in a tower and locks her away for years to come. Ravenna is the kind of Queen who is obsessed with beauty. She stands in front of her mirror, eats the hearts of birds to stay young, and is cruel to all her subjects. She is told by the mirror that she is the fairest in the land until one day when Snow White (Kristen Stewart) comes of age that she is no longer the fairest and that her magical spell to keep her young and beautiful can be undone by Snow White.
Ravenna summons her brother Finn (Sam Spruell) to fetch Snow White so she can have her heart so she can stay young and be immortal, but Snow White escapes into the dark forest. The Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) is sent to retrieve her but in the process he decides to help her and begins to train her to become a leader.
There is a Prince and that is Prince William (Sam Claflin), a childhood friend of Snow White’s and the son of a nobleman who is still loyal to Snow White’s father. He is an honorable man and a gifted archer and both he, and the Huntsman seems to have romantic interests in Snow White. Check the title to see who has the better chance in that match.
The best part of the film is the character back stories. Everyone has one and this is the first time we get to see the evil Queen’s reasoning for her hatred towards everyone, men in particular. She has a grudge against a male dominated world and really, who can blame her. There’s some sympathy there for the Queen, if just a little.
Charlize Theron does a very good job in her role as Ravenna and with the help of some fine makeup work, truly shows signs of age as well as youth while playing the character. As she gets older from using her magic, you can see in her performance her age increase and she does so marvelously.
We do have a set of seven dwarfs in this film. This isn’t your Walt Disney Seven Dwarfs, but these are some little people who have seen their wealth and well being deteriorated as a result of Ravenna’s rule. The Dwarfs are played by actors including Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, Bob Hoskins, Eddie Marsan, and others.
Special effects in the film are effective and add to the ambience. James Newton Howard’s score is effective and delivers when and where it needs to.
One minor criticism is that Snow White is locked up as a child and doesn’t escape until she’s “of age.” This means she’s locked up for a minimum of at least 10 years and yet when she gets out she’s a little social butterfly and able to get along well with everyone with no issues whatsoever. It’s minor and you can get past it fairly easily.
Remember that this is a fairy tale when you go to see the film. Birds and other creatures will assist in ways that may seem farfetched, and there may be times when you see a hint of another fairy tale in the film. But if you can remember that in a fairy tale anything can happen, than you’ll enjoy this film.
FINAL GRADE: B –
Reel Film News Movie Review by Bill Ayres