Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and brief sensuality.
Starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Sam Claflin, Sam Spruell, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, Johnny Harris, Brian Gleeson, Vincent Regan.
Written by Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini.
Directed by Rupert Sanders.
There are a few Snow White movies out these days, but which one is the fairest of them all? I suppose the greater question would be as to why Hollywood brass thought it was high time for a few more Snow White re-makes (there were rumors that a third one was scrapped). With March's release of the light-hearted Mirror Mirror, Snow White and The Huntsman brings another take on the poor, little abused princess made famous by Walt Disney in the 1930s.
Kristen Stewart plays Snow White, the orphaned girl imprisoned by her evil stepmother Ravenna (Charlize Theron). In this version, Snow White escapes into the Dark Forest, where all kinds of occult powers reign. Ravenna employs the huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), a drunken, grieving widower to go into the forest to retrieve Snow so she can rip out her heart and use its magic to extend her youthful appearance and life.
The Huntsman finds Snow White and eventually helps her escape, first visiting a community of widows and then meeting up with a group of dwarves (I counted more than 7, none of which were named "Grumpy" or Dopey"). The dwarves are led by a blind spiritual leader (Bob Hoskins), who sees a connection between Snow White and the magical (fairy) ecosystem.
When Snow White and the huntsman follow the dwarves into the magical realm of fairies, Ravenna appears, disguised as William (Sam Claflin), SW's long lost childhood friend and son of a Duke who opposes the queen's eveil regime. Ravenna presents Snow White with the trademark poison apple, and the princess is left in a coma.
Not to give too much away, but Snow White is awakened from her slumber by "true love's kiss." I won't give away the identity of the "true love," (between William and the huntsman) even though you can kind of figure it out. Once awake, Snow White leads an army of loyalists in an attack on her stepmother. Any kid over 4 can figure out how the story ends.
Snow White and the Huntsman doesn't really ruin the original fairy tale, but it doesn't improve it, either. This version is definitely a more Gothic one, and darker in its presentation.
The main problem for Snow White and the Huntsman is an apparent identity crisis. It would seem that the producers and screenwriters wanted the movie to be a classic fairy tale, an epic action/adventure fantasy (i.e. Lord of the Rings), all rolled into one. The result is a movies with dark stuff that is a little too violent and scary for little girls who dress up like the Disney princess, while the sappy, magical fantasy is a little too tame for adults.
There are a lot of confusing twists in Snow White and the Huntsman as well, including the aforementioned love triangle. One of those puzzling elements is Snow White's connection to nature and the fairies, which is never completely explained, nor used to her benefit during the final battle. Another head-scratcher is the role of the dwarves and their connection to Snow White, which comes across as somewhat pedestrian. Perhaps the most mystifying twist is the huntsman's role in the story, which at first appears elevated (certainly in the title), but really doesn't matter by the time the credits roll.
One other personal gripe I have about Snow White and the Huntsman is that when you select between two actresses to play the roles of the evil queen and the "fairest of them all," you'd better be darn sure that the actress who plays Snow White is a knockout. Don't get me wrong: Kristen Stewart is a beautiful young woman, but in my humble opinion, not quite in the same league as the super-hot Charlize Theron. That said, the filmmakers did an adequate job of contrasting the difference between Snow White's pure inner beauty and Ravenna's ugly core.
If there is one notable performance in Snow White and the Huntsman, it's Theron's portrayal as the evil queen dependent on the occult, out to avenge the abuse of her youth. Stewart gives a performance that improves on some her previous work, especially her vapid feats in the silly Twilight Saga. Hemsworth's performance is adequate, but is overshadowed by his role's diminished status in the movie.
Some may enjoy the new twists in Snow White and the Huntsman, but I think it's better to leave the classics alone. Maybe next summer, we'll see a whole new series of Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty remakes.
I hope not.