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dir Tarsem Singh Dhandwar
scr Melissa Wallack, Jason Keller
prd Bernie Goldmann, Ryan Kavanaugh, Brett Ratner
with Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane, Mark Povinelli, Martin Klebba, Sebastian Saraceno, Jordan Prentice, Joe Gnoffo, Danny Woodburn, Ronald Lee Clark, Sean Bean, Mare Winningham, Michael Lerner, Robert Emms, Bonnie Bentley
release US 30.Mar.12, UK 2.Apr.12
12/US Relativity 1h46
Fairest of them all: Roberts and Collins
SUNDANCE FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Both lavishly produced and light-hearted in tone, this fractured fairy tale aspires to be The Princess Bride, and actually gets it right from time to time. While it's too uneven and corny to be a classic, it's still a lot of fun.
After the King disappears, his daughter Snow White (Collins) is raised by her conniving step-mother (Roberts), who plots with her right-hand man (Lane) to steal the kingdom from Snow. Then handsome Prince Alcott (Hammer) arrives and shakes things up, immediately falling for Snow, which sends the queen into even crazier fits of jealousy. She sends Snow into the woods to be eaten by a mythical beast, but Snow instead befriends a gang of dwarf bandits (Povinelli, Klebba, Saraceno, Prentice, Gnoffo and Woodburn), who teach her how to fight back.
With Tarsem's eye for spectacle, this film looks almost too amazing for kids to appreciate, using colour, costumes, architecture and effects to layer the film with eye-catching fun. The settings are so clever that we get lost in the details, from the majesty of the castle to the dwarfs' crowded lair. The only element that never quite makes sense is the queen's alternate mirror-reality, located in a random hut on a magical lake.
And the characters are vivid too, although they're more amusing than funny. Roberts has a ball chomping on the scenery, while Collins is well-cast as the feisty princess. Hammer's prince is a hapless hunk who continually ends up nearly naked. But he isn't the only man-candy: the dwarfs are a terrific bunch of distinct characters who are strangely sexy. They're also the wittiest thing about the film, getting all the best lines and action as they hark back to Gilliam's Time Bandits.
In the dwarfs, the film's combination of slapstick goofiness and knowing comedy come together perfectly. Everyone else seems to be trying a little too hard to get a laugh, which is part of what makes the film feel like the humour was added (or cranked up) as an afterthought. It also doesn't help that, even with all of the plot's twists and turns, the story never actually surprises us. But it does keep a smile on our faces.
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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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