I didn't like the trailers very much, because they had that obnoxiously snarky, too-cool-for-the-old-school vibe that I associate with The Nineties
, and because they seemed to be seriously implying that the evil queen was the protagonist, if only in a My Best Friends Wedding Villain Protagonist
way. But I gave it a try at the cheap theaters, basically expecting some shiny sets and costumes and not much else. I got that, plus a lot of cheesy but likable humor, the most playful swordfight I'd seen since the first Pirates of the Caribbean, and a surprisingly fun set of characters.
Lily Collins maybe wasn't quite pretty enough, but she had a real earnestness and mischievousness that really sold me on the character. Julia Roberts is very amusing as the selfish, high-maintenance evil queen, and surprisingly chilling as the Mirror. Nathan Lane, who I tend to think of as an entertaining Large Ham
, had a surprising warmth and vulnerability as her minion. The dwarves, played by actual "little people," are Crazy Awesome
personified. Armie Hammer as the Prince is perhaps the weakest link, but he at least manages to be somewhat sympathetic in a thankless Chew Toy
role, and his swordplay is rather good.
The film's taken some flak as being anti-feminist, but I'm not sure I agree. Yes, Snow White is merely okay at physical combat, after a few weeks or months of training by the dwarves, and not totally on a level with them or the Prince, who've been doing this all their lives, but that struck me as fairly plausible, and she evens the playing field with her Guile Hero
and Magnetic Hero
moments. The queen is a selfish and short-sighted ***** who spends other people's money on herself, is nasty to the help and her stepchild, and in general is a spot-on caricature of a fairly common personality type, both male and female, that deserves most of the flak it gets.
The other controversial aspect is Snow White's final confrontation with her stepmother. I thought it worked in context. Snow is the king's acknowledged heir at this point, a high-ranking authority figure in the realm, and she basically tells the stepmother: "Here is the method of your execution; if you reject it, I can arrange another." Bearing in mind, at this point, the stepmother is a traitor and former usurper who's just demonstrated that she will NEVER stop scheming against Snow.