Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

Directed by: Rupert Sanders.

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Sam Spruell, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Toby Jones, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost.

Rating:   Running Time: 127 mins.

The Brothers Grimm’s story of Snow White and the seven dwarves has been told multiple times in many media, movies in particular first told the story almost 100 years ago. This year we’ve already had another version released in cinemas, Tarsem Singh’s Mirror Mirror, with a slightly different take on the traditional story. Disney were planning until recently to do another take on the story, to be set in the east with the seven dwarves replaced by samurai. The current version of the movie also presents the story with a slight twist not only in the story, but in the title, Snow White & the Huntsman.

As the movie starts we’re shown that after his Queen’s death, the King of the land rescued a woman, Ravenna (Charlize Theron), held prisoner by an invading army, and struck by her beauty, the two were married the next day. After killing the King and having the castle seized by her brother Finn (Sam Spruell) and her army, she has her mirror brought to the castle. Asking it who is the fairest of them all, the mirror confirms to her that she is, but that there is another destined to be fairer, her step-daughter Snow White.

Years later, after her reign has taken it’s toll on the land, most of which is dead, the queen is mortally wounded by an attacker. Killing her attacker with magic and using magic to heal her wound, she begins to age and asks the mirror why her powers are fading. The mirror tells her that the cause of her powers fading is Snow White, who is now coming of age where she will be the fairest of the land. It also tells her that if the Queen eats her heart she will be forever young and beautiful.

The Queen sends her brother to retrieve Snow White from the castle tower, but she escapes, running from the castle into the nearby dark woods. Enraged, the Queen sends for a huntsman that knows the forest. Promising him that she will bring his wife back from the dead, she sends him into the forest to find Snow White and bring her back, but when he leads her men into the forest and finds her, he is told the truth, that the Queen lied, and in retaliation instead of handing her over, he helps her to escape the Queen’s men.

Lets start out by saying that this isn’t a perfect movie, but considering it’s helmed by first time director Rupert Sanders, it’s a heck of a lot better than it should be. The twist this time around being that the huntsman not only can’t bring himself to kill Snow White, but that he begins to fall in love with her. It is quite faithful to the original story elements, with the inclusion of the seven dwarves, and the apple, it is faithful while still adding a few new ideas here and there. Te design of the movie is very nicely done, with the sequences in the castle looking great as well as the forest set sequences, but set design alone does not make for a great movie.

In fact, one of the major problems is that it’s a very uneven movie. First off, the thing that bugged the most about the movie – Chris Hemsworth’s accent throughout the movie. People thought Russel Crowe’s accent was bad in the recent remake of Robin Hood, wait till they hear Hemsworth’s in this, their heads will explode! I’m guessing it’s meant to be a northern English accent, but it comes across as a mix of a poor Irish accent and a poor Scottish accent, it’s pretty bad.

Kristin Stewart isn’t bad as Snow White, she does what she can with the part but it’s an average performance, not good for the lead character in a movie, though I suspect this is not due entirely due to Stewart but to the writing. This is made more evident as the movie goes on, with her character undergoing a change that leads her to give a speech to a group of soldiers which was entirely underwhelming when it should have been rousing. Even a possible love triangle between her, the huntsman and a Prince called William who was a childhood friend, never gets given much attention. Mind you, if it had, with Stewart in the part, you can bet there would be Twilight parallel’s drawn.

Even the dwarves, played by an impressive collection of actors including Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Toby Jones, Ray Winstone and Nick Frost, are disappointing. None of them particularly stands out, they are shot in such a way that they actually DO look like dwarves, and there’s even been some attempt to add humour into the movie with them, but the jokes fall flat.

During the penultimate battle near the movie’s end, they play a major part but are then forgotten about until the very end of the movie, they could have been played for some great comic relief, as they were in Tarsem Singh’s Mirror Mirror, but here they’re just a band of grumpy old miners turned mercenaries, and there’s nothing special about them.

The movie’s one saving grace is Charlize Theron, giving a great scene stealing performance as the evil Queen Ravenna. She clearly relished the part, and every moment she’s on the screen it lights up. The character is also better written than Snow White, with flashbacks to her past that makes her more interesting, and a slightly more sympathetic villain than you’re average bad guy.

The biggest problem is just how average it is overall, there’s good use (but not overuse) of effects, the pacing is all over the place, with an opening that takes too long to kick into gear, and a whole third act that struggles to keep what momentum it has, and an ending that drags. At 127 minutes running time, it’s too long, and could have been trimmed by 15-20 minutes, mostly from the ending.

I’m not saying the movie is bad, but it’s just so average that it’s disappointing, with the cast involved, and a really decent musical score by composer James Newton Howard, it really should be a better and more engaging movie.

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Posted on May 30, 2012, in Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. What a shame. I was really looking forward to this. I’ll still see it, but now my expectations are really really low.

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