Well the second live-action Snow White film of the summer hit the big screen several weeks ago, and now it is time to ask the all important question: “Mirror, mirror, tell me true, which film is the better of the two?”
The first version, titled simply “Mirror Mirror” was released back in March and starred Academy Award winner Julia Roberts as the wicked queen and the lovely Lily Collins as Snow White. With a rating of PG, the film is a rather tediously juvenile retelling of the famous tale, but I’m sure many children enjoyed it.
The more recent rendition is “Snow White and the Huntsman” featuring Academy Award winner Charlize Theron in the part of the nasty Queen Ravenna and Kristen Stewart, better known as Bella the vampire, as Snow White. This move carries a rating of PG-13, and it contains some fairly graphic violence in addition to a number of intense battle scenes that are not suitable for very young children.
“Snow White and the Huntsman begins with the following dramatic voiceover: “Once upon a time in deep winter the queen was admiring the falling snow when she saw a rose blooming in the vines of the cold. Reaching for it, she pricked her finger, and three drops of blood fell. And because the red seemed so alive in the white, she thought, ‘If only I had a child as white as snow, lips as red as blood, hair as black as the raven’s wings, and all with the strength of that rose.’ Soon after a daughter was born to the queen and was named Snow White. And she was adored throughout the kingdom as much for her divine spirit as for her beauty.”
When Snow White’s mother dies, her father is inconsolable, until he finally rides of to fight in a war and takes a woman named Ravenna (Theron) prisoner. She soon makes him forget all about his late wife, and he marries her. But Ravenna shows her true colors on their wedding night when she murders the king, assumes control of the kingdom, and imprisons Snow White in an isolated tower of the castle.
After spending six long years in the terrible tower, Snow White manages to escape, and this enrages the queen who enlists the aid of a drunken huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to find her and return her to the castle. But the Huntsman ultimately succumbs to Snow White’s charm and joins forces with eight dwarves (Don’t ask.) to overthrow Ravenna.
Now to answer the question posed to the mirror earlier, “Snow White and the Huntsman” is a much better film than “Mirror Mirror” for a number of reasons, one being that Theron’s portrayal of the queen is far superior to the way Roberts played the character. Of course this should come as no surprise because Theron is much more versatile and talented than Roberts is. It’s a lot of fun watching Theron rant and rave as the enraged queen, and in the film’s production notes, the actress offered some interesting insight into her character.
“Ravenna’s mother instilled into her at a very young age that she can only be her true best self if she remains young and stays beautiful. She realizes that her magical powers are her survival. And that’s the road she travels. Ravenna realizes that she wants something that, if she made different choices in her life, she could have had. But because of how she decided to live and the bed that she made for herself — one that she’s lying in right now — she can’t. It’s not even an option for her.”
Of course one of major premises of the Snow White story is whether the queen or Snow White is the most beautiful woman in the kingdom. In “Mirror Mirror,” there is no question that Collins has edge in beauty over Roberts, but perhaps the major flaw in “Snow White and the Huntsman” is where the mirror tells Ravenna that Snow White is fairer than she is. Whereas I guess you could say that Stewart is attractive, her looks are not even in the same galaxy as the classically beautiful Theron. Thus we must conclude that the mirror in “Snow White and the Huntsman” is in desperate need of a trip to Lens Crafters.
In the acting department, however, Stewart does quite well, and it is obvious that she really threw herself wholeheartedly into the role of Snow White. In the production notes, she explained what the filmmakers wanted to do with her character.
“We’re not trying to take Snow White and turn her on her side; we stay very true to who she is in the story. She represents a reminder of just how great people can be to one another. It’s been interesting to play a young girl who is completely unaware of any vanity. She just has none. In almost every other role you play, you’re at least aware of yourself and might have to play a girl dealing with vanity as she grows into a woman. The fact that Snow White has absolutely none of that, and Ravenna has the ultimate opposite, says something very nice about what people find beautiful in life.”
Probably the most impressive thing about the film is that it offers some truly dazzling special effects in the scenes involving the enchanted forest. Here Snow White encounters an amazing array of creatures from adorably playful fairies to a stunning white buck. These segments alone are worth the price of admission, and they are scenes that I could easily watch again. And the sets and costumes also are outstanding.
Actually this film used CGI to the maximum because the men playing the parts of the dwarves all are really normal height. I guess this fact really isn’t relevant to evaluating the film, but I just found it curious.
All right, the moment of truth has finally arrived. In a summer that has been very disappointing at the theaters, “Snow White and the Huntsman” offers what I will call “acceptable” entertainment, and it earns a final score of seven.
Now here’s something to ponder: Mirror, mirror on the wall, will this summer’s movies get any better at all? Sorry, but I’m not optimistic.