26 December 2002 | Victor Field
A letdown considering the source and the talent - pretty Grimm.
Hallmark Entertainment's seemingly remorseless quest to film every fairy tale ever made meant that they'd eventually get to the Grimm brothers' tale of Snow White and the seven dwarves - except that as told by adapters Caroline Thompson and Julie Hickson only six of them are dwarves, as part of their development of the classic tale. Unfortunately, you know what they say about the road to hell and good intentions.
"Snow White" also works in a few elements of "The Snow Queen" - the shards of Queen Elspeth's mirror flying into people's eyes and causing them to not see her evil for what it is - but also adds some interesting twists to the yarn; her psychosis is for once given some basis (the Queen's insecurity over the hideousness that is her true self is the ultimate cause for her going over the edge when her mirror informs that it is her stepdaughter, not she herself, who is the fairest of them all), and the septet - the days of the week in... um... corporeal form - are also a bit more defined than the norm. Lovely British Columbia scenery and a fine score by Michael Convertino also help; the problem with "Snow White" is, however, Snow White herself.
Other characters here get fleshed out, but Snow White remains a bit too passive for comfort - it's less the fault of Kristin Kreuk's performance than the basic script and character, but there's only so much you can do with a symbol instead of a person. Miranda Richardson has much more scope as the wicked stepmother, and is clearly enjoying herself (although you do wonder why nobody notices the woman is obviously a few sandwiches short of a picnic), but a few less wisecracks would have helped - "It looks like I finally left you breathless!" she cackles post-poisoned apple delivery.
A lot more wonder would also have helped; "Snow White" is sadly short of magic, and doesn't really take as much advantage of its story as it could (except for the sadly truncated attack of the garden gnomes... not as daft as it sounds, trust me). This is particularly sad considering Caroline Thompson did such a good job on "Black Beauty" and as the scripter of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and "Edward Scissorhands." It is, however, always good to watch Vincent Schiavelli and Michael J. Anderson (the dwarf from "Twin Peaks") - but fairytale completists, Richardson fans and guys in love with the brunette from "Smallville" will get more from this ultimately dull tale than I did.