Snow White and the Huntsman

Cast:
Kristen Stewart as Snow White
Chris Hemsworth as The Huntsman
Charlize Theron as Ravenna
Sam Claflin as William
Sam Spruell as Finn
Ian McShane as Beith
Bob Hoskins as Muir
Ray Winstone as Gort
Nick Frost as Nion
Eddie Marsan as Duir
Toby Jones as Coll
Johnny Harris as Quert
Brian Gleeson as Gus
Vincent Regan as Duke Hammond
Liberty Ross as Snow White’s Mother

Directed by Rupert Sanders

Summary:
“Snow White and the Huntsman” is an interesting take on the classic fairytale. It features creative visual effects and entertaining performances from Theron and Hemsworth, but the lack of surprises and uneven pacing do drag it down.

Story:
A long time ago, Snow White was a young princess living in a prosperous kingdom, but when her mother died, everything changed. Her father, the king, was distraught and soon fell under the spell of the mysterious Ravenna. The king married her and as soon as she was made queen, Ravenna killed him, allowed her army to take over the kingdom, and locked up Snow White in the castle tower. Ravenna then began her reign of terror over the kingdom and her subjects. Obsessed with youth and beauty, she stole the life of the local young women in order to magically extend her own.

According to an ancient spell, only Snow White could break her powers and kill her. Fearing the young princess, Ravenna orders her killed once and for all. Through good fortune and a little magical help, Snow White is able to escape into the dark forest. Unable to pursue her prey any farther, Ravenna is forced to hire the Huntsman to track her down. Thus begins the chase through this fairytale kingdom and the beginning of the downfall of Ravenna.

“Snow White and the Huntsman” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and brief sensuality.

What Worked:
If I had to describe “Snow White and the Huntsman,” I’d say it was the “Lord of the Rings” version of the classic fairytale. The familiar story is told in a gritty, dark way. We are treated to cool monsters, swords, and sorcery along with doses of romance, humor, and adventure. And while it’s a story that we all know, it’s kind of fun to see someone else’s interpretation of it. It’s like seeing yet another version of “Romeo and Juliet.” You know everything about it before it begins, but seeing how someone else depicts it is part of the fun.

One of the big things I liked about “Snow White and the Huntsman” was the production design. The Magic Mirror, the dark forest, and the Queen’s magical minions are done in creative and visually impressive ways. Warriors made of glass shards are particularly impressive in one battle scene. A unique troll is also a highlight. But another big standout moment is in a location called The Sanctuary. We see all of the woodland creatures… with slight magical twists. We see fairies and a unique representation of the spirit of the forest. It all has a bit of a “Legend” feel to it.

Charlize Theron’s Evil Queen is interesting. She basically portrays her as a twisted fairytale version of the stereotypical Hollywood diva. She is obsessed with youth and good looks. She goes nuts on her servants. She has dramatic mood swings. It’s a unique and dark take on the character. Chris Hemsworth is a lot like Thor as The Huntsman. He’s a flawed character with a heart of gold that swings his axe instead of a hammer, but that’s exactly what the audience expects from him and he delivers it well. As for the Dwarves, it’s really weird to see familiar faces of Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, and Brian Gleeson as dwarves. They’re so familiar, but there’s something different about them. I found myself focusing more on how they used makeup and camera tricks to dwarf them out rather than the characters. But they do provide some much needed comic relief in areas where the film starts getting too moody and slow.

What Didn’t Work:
While it’s fun to see someone else’s interpretation of the classic fairytale, that doesn’t change the fact that you know every single beat of this plot before it happens. It’s pretty much the Catch 22 of this film. While it’s fun to see their take on the story, you know The Huntsman won’t kill Snow White. You know when the Dwarves will show up. You know that Ravenna is going to poison Snow White with an apple. There are very few, if any, surprises in this story, and that starts to hurt the film as the novelty of the new interpretation wears off.

The pacing of “Snow White and the Huntsman” is kind of all over the place, too. There are really five acts to the film. The first act features Charlize Theron stealing the show as Ravenna. The second act features Chris Hemsworth stealing the show as The Huntsman. The third act features the appearance of the Dwarves who also steal the show. Then by the fourth act everything grinds to a complete halt. If any portion of this film will put people to sleep, it’s this one. Matters aren’t helped by the fact that it features helicopter shots of dwarves and humans walking across epic landscapes, something all too familiar from “The Lord of the Rings.” The fifth act then features the big Hollywood battle for the castle and the inevitable ending. It helps energize the film with sword fights and explosions, but you’re kind of ready for it to wrap up at that point since it’s like every generic battle you’ve seen in “The Chronicles of Narnia” and, again, “The Lord of the Rings.”

Kristen Stewart is also an easy target for critics as Snow White. While I was ready to give her the benefit of the doubt, I have to admit that it’s hard to see why any of the characters would fall in love with her or pledge their lives to her. She has little character. Stewart is, unfortunately, given little to do beyond looking pretty and looking scared. By the time she gives a rousing speech to stir the troops, you don’t really buy it. And when woodland creatures start helping her and running around looking lovingly at her, you can’t help but snicker a little as you think of Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” and the parody of it all in “Shrek.”

The Bottom Line:
If you’re into fantasy or you’re a fan of any of the lead actors, then I think “Snow White and the Huntsman” is a film you’ll find worth checking out in theaters. You’re also more likely to be forgiving of the film’s flaws. When I walked out of the theater after this screening, I think I was the only critic that found this film somewhat entertaining. Overall I think it was a good effort, even if the results are a tad mixed.

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