Snow Queen (2002)


   

Our rating: 4 out of 5

Rated: PG

 
reviewed by Charity Bishop
 
     

For many, winter is a beautiful time. For Gerta (Chelsa Hobbs), it is a painful reminder of what she has lost. Her mother was lost one frosty winter's night, leaving her husband Wolfgang and daughter lost without her. Gerta's happiness has been fragile ever since, as she cares for her father at their inn. But then one day Kai (Jeremy Guilbaut) comes into her life. A cheerful, fun-loving young man, he swiftly warms his way into her heart. But then the winter comes... and in its wake, something terrible is about to happen. Kai has changed. After one fateful skate on the ice, his temperament has altered severely. Suddenly he holds no respect for the hotel members. He slacks on his chores, spending most of his time on the frozen lake, and he treats Gerta with cruelty. He seems like one person torn in two... fighting against some unknown force threatening to envelope and overcome his good nature.

Then evil blows into town. The mysterious woman in white, her voice as soft as silk, her hair white as snow, her eyes cold as ice. Kai is strangely drawn to her, and on the night of Gerta's eighteenth birthday, he disappears. Many believe him to have fallen through the ice and drowned, but she believes he's been taken... by the Snow Queen (Bridget Fonda). A woman of great power and evil, she is accused of having compelled a number of men to leave with her. All over the valley, young men have disappeared, vanished without a trace. In the meantime, Kai has awakened within a crystal palace of ice. The Snow Queen has given him the task of putting together a shattered mirror. With no way of escape, and struggling against his own tide of emotions for this icy woman who holds him under her spell, Kai is entrapped within her world. Gerta is his only hope... but even she can be waylaid and ensnared by the seductions of the seasons. Each of the Snow Queen's sisters, Spring, Summer, and Autumn, want her for their own purposes....

 

Hallmark is known for its exceptional fairy tale miniseries. Merlin, Snow White, The 10th Kingdom, and now Snow Queen. Visually, their counterpart, Artisan, excels beyond many Hollywood companies. This film is no exception. The shadows of roses grow and entwine across bare walls, remnants of dreams are reflected on the ceiling, and the Snow Queen's icy touch can make frost grow like wildflowers. There are talking animals galore, in particular a delightfully threatening polar bear as the Queen's bodyguard. Unfortunately, some of the film's aspects are strange, and the ending doesn't tie up all the loose ends. For the most part, I enjoyed the miniseries. My family, however, was of a different opinion. They spent the first two hours complaining how "weird" it was, and how long it was before I kicked them out of the living room. The first hour and a half in particular are a lot of fun. Kai is a great lead, and it's humorous to watch him try to win the heart of the lovely Gerta (who resembles a prettier version of Anna Paquin).

 

It's when Gerta has to face the four seasons to reach the Ice Palace that the film seems to drag. The story could have been told in half the time; it's not complex enough to warrant a four-hour stint. Content-wise, Snow Queen is surprisingly light on possible concerns. The worst of the violence comes when Gerta lands a few punches on a robber-girl. There are some creepy and hideous special effects when we learn the mirror's true purpose (it was created by the devil, whom we get to see in all his ugly eeriness). Sensuality is limited to a couple of kisses, although several of the early scenes with the frosty queen and Kai are presented in a sensual, cold setting. He consistently fights himself against asking for another kiss. There are two downfalls in this film other than the length. One is the lack of an explanation about Gerta's mother. Did her father refuse the Snow Queen her frosty kiss, and thus the woman killed her mother in vengeance? What about the polar bear's true identity? We're given a reflection in the mirror of his true self, but how did he get that way? Who is he? What was the mirror's true purpose? These loose ends leave a lot of threads hanging. The second flaw was the casting. It was perfect... except for the single most important member of the cast. Bridget Fonda is an okay actress. But she doesn't have the charisma or fear-factor the Snow Queen needs to become a terrifying and formidable villain. From the bewitching sleepy powers of Spring, to the bold, vibrant dreams of Summer, the violent, dark purposes of Autumn, and finally the frosty haze of winter, the Snow Queen has been defeated.