The film opens up with a narration by the Queen (Julia Roberts) telling her story about Snow White (Lily Collins). When Snow White was born her mother had died and eventually the King (Sean Bean) remarried a new Queen which in turn became Snow Whites Stepmother. When the King rode off one day into the forest he never returned so Snow White was left at the castle to be raised by her evil Stepmother, the current Queen.
It is Snow Whites eighteenth birthday and she ventures out of her room only to be disappointed and scolded by the Queen. The people of the village have stopped singing and dancing and the land has frozen over with snow and ice. Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) is on his way with his assistant Charles Renbock (Robert Emms) to visit the Queen but along their trip through the forest they are soon attacked by thieves. Seven very tall men, Napoleon (Jordan Prentice), Half Pint (Mark Provinelli), Grub (Joe Gnoffo), Grimm (Danny Woodburn), Wolf (Sebastian Saraceno), Butcher (Martin Klebba) and not to forget Chuckles (Ronald Lee Clark) all overtake the Prince and Charles, robbing them of not only their wealth but their clothes as well.
Snow White who is forbidden to leave the castle, perched high atop a cliff overlooking the water, now ice, on her way to visit the villagers stumbles upon the unknown Prince just hanging around. A short introduction later she continues on her journey and the Prince on his. When Snow White enters the village she not only gets to see poverty and sickness with her own eyes but by command of the Queen, a notice of higher taxes. Higher taxes mean better protection for the villagers from the beast that hunts in the woods. Back at the castle The Queen looks into her mirror, more so walks into it for advice in which the mirror recommends that the Queen marry into wealth or else she will not be the fairest of them all no more. One problem though, the only one asking for her hand is the Baron (Michael Lerner) and there is no love lost there at all!
When the Prince arrives at the castle and is announced by the Queen’s assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane) she finds a half-naked smooth yet hairy man standing in front of her and he has taken her breath away. So now her plan has turned full circle and her plot is to get the Prince to marry her, mainly for her money since she is broke. She decides to throw him a party and must first beautify herself for the evening. Bee stings on the lips, fish on the fingers, maggots on the belly, bird poop on the face and snakes later the Queen is ready for her proposal. At the evening of the party on the dance floor the Prince once again bumps into Snow White who of course was not supposed to be out of her room. When girls turn eighteen do they ever listen? The Queen must think fast and decides to have Brighton take Snow White out to the woods and kill her. Of course he could not but when the beast appears he tells her to run as far away from the castle as she can. It wasn’t very far but rather a tree limb later she ends up at the door of the Dwarfs, passed out from a bump on her head. No the Dwarf did not kiss the Princess Snow White she woke up on her own inside their little home where she happens to become a member of the Dwarf gang. With a little learning curve of course!
Living with the Dwarfs turned out to be a good thing for their reputations which were tarnished by the Queen many years ago. The story that Snow White was killed in the woods did not hold true since eventually the Prince once again stumbles upon her in the forest. This time with a bit of built up sexual tension between swords. Back at the castle when the Prince tells the Queen that Snow White is alive Brighton soon becomes a cockroach from the magic the Queen summoned from the mirror. Too bad for the Queen though that her puppy love potion was not exactly what she was looking for in a Prince soon to become King if she can help it. When the Prince is stolen on their wedding day the Queen realizes that Snow would have to fall and what better way than by the hands of the Queen herself.
In the end, evil spells can be broken if by the right person, greed and vanity can disappear, never accept an apple from an old lady, age always comes before beauty and it’s always important to know when you’re beaten especially if you believe in love.
The film is slightly off the beaten path of the original Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I mean it has many similarities as it follows the story line changing things up as it goes along. It still plays as a family film, a bit dark at times but not quite as family as the animated version. The humor is a bit adult level, many of the scenes as well; no one really needs to see a half-naked dwarf let alone the Prince in a fantasy film for the family. Besides some quirky directions in the film, the photography is extravagant as well as the costumes, adding a lot of flair and color. The writing is well done, keeping close to many cliché lines from the original film but again at times leans a bit on the adult side rather than children. Although there are several funny moments in the film which involve, Brighton, the Prince and the Dwarfs I just didn’t think it was enough, let alone the story could have used a bit more effects because when they did it worked. I can’t say I loved it but I surely did not hate this version. It truly is a risk and difficult to stray from the original story that’s been a staple in the minds of young and old for an eternity.
Roberts is always excellent in her roles and is still loved by millions mainly due to her “Pretty Woman” character that catapulted her to stardom. In this role I think she loses her character at times and a bit less humor and more darkness in her personality would have helped rather than hurt her character. Maybe a little more Angelina Jolie and a little less Julia Roberts would have helped! Collins does a fine job as Snow White and even looks the part to a degree but at times I kept seeing her as Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. She plays well with the Dwarfs who all did justice to their characters but I must say I missed Sleepy and Dopey and all the original personalities rather than Grub and Half Pint and Wolf by name. I like Hammer who does an excellent job as the Prince but he just seemed a bit unpaired when standing side by side with Collins. Maybe it was a height thing or the fact that some people just don’t totally complement each other as a pair. Lane is always a treat and once again slays the beast with this role. Overall I hoped for more with the storyline and direction but thanks to some beautiful sets, costumes and actors, along with an ageing Queen, no not Lane, this film is still worth the family outing to the theatre. Although the Bollywood, which I’m a fan of, meets Hollywood ending through the credits was a bit misplaced! Written with a kiss, no bite of the apple, with two paws out of four by Jon Patch.