MOVIE REVIEW: Snow White and the Huntsman

Did this dark interpretation live up to the fairytale?

Kristen Stewart as the "fairest one of all."


( The evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) wants her stepdaughter Snow White (Kristen Stewart) dead when the latter is proclaimed "the fairest one of all" by the queen's magic mirror. Darker than the classic Disney animated feature Snow White and The Seven DwarfsSnow White and The Huntsman is supposedly more faithful to the original Brothers Grimm tale. Just how much darker and more twisted is it? In the Disney version, the Queen wanted Snow White's heart from the huntsman as mere proof that the princess was dead. In this lavish live-action Hollywood spectacle, the Queen wants Snow White's heart so she can eat it.




Watch the trailer here.



The film's lush visuals. Snow White and The Huntsman is the feature film directorial debut of TV commercial helmer Rupert Sanders, and the guy certainly has visual panache to spare. With production design and cinematography that's part Lord of the Rings and part Robin Hood (the recent one directed by Ridley Scott), the film has a lived-in look and texture that will make you believe at times that the miserable, 15th century kingdom  depicted in the story may have actually existed. That is, until the computer-generated fantasy elements remind you that this is all an extravagant fairy tale. But what striking visual effects Sanders has in his arsenal! The best ones include a decoy army whose fighters shatter into millions of shards of black glass, the nasty poisoned apple that fells our heroine, and the beguiling beauty of a fairy sanctuary.



Chris Helmsworth puts a spin on the huntsman by portraying him as a grieving alcoholic.


The back stories of the major characters. Snow White, Queen Ravenna, the Huntsman, and even the Queen's brother Finn (a character absent from the Disney version)-are  given fascinating backgrounds that make the story more intriguing. Chris Hemsworth's Huntsman, for instance, is an alcoholic because of his wife's death. We also discover in a frightening flashback that Snow White's kingdom is not the first to fall because of Ravenna's murderous pursuit of eternal beauty. The script also has its gems of observation, such as a line of dialogue that explains quite brilliantly why dwarfs make such good miners.



Charlize Theron. She's quite compelling as the beauty-obsessed Ravenna, as serious in the iconic role as Julia Roberts was campy when the latter played the same in the recent Mirror Mirror. If Meryl Streep owed some of the success of her portrayal as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady to her makeup artist, Theron should be similarly grateful to the costume designer who created the stunning, raven-like costume Theron wears in the film's climax, which makes the Oscar-winning actress look and move like a giant bird of prey trapped in an oil spill.



Charlize Theron as the beauty obsessed Wicked Queen



Kristen Stewart. Fans who are hoping that Snow White will finally prove that the Twilight Saga superstar has more range as an actress than she's given credit for will be sorely disappointed, since there's not one expression or emotion she projects in this medieval fairy tale that adds anything to her limited acting arsenal. One crucial sequence even has Stewart's Bella Swan baggage doing Snow White and the Huntsman more harm than good. Designed to be majestic and moving, the scene draws chuckles instead because of its similarity to a major plot point from Breaking Dawn.


The unresolved love triangle. The script sets up a Twilight-esque love triangle involving Snow White, her childhood friend William (Sam Claflin), and the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth). But by the time the end credits roll, we have no idea which of the two macho men has won the princess' heart.



The uneven pace. There are just a few too many scenes with long stretches of silence that sap the story's momentum. It's almost as if the movie's director-a TV commercial helmer used to getting his point across in 30 seconds-had difficulty managing a 127-minute movie. Less would certainly have been more.


With its more than 2-hour running time, its antagonist's cannibalistic obsession with staying young, not to mention the absence of song numbers and cute dwarfs, this one's NOT a Snow White for very young children with short attention spans. Heed the MTRCB's PG-13 classification.



3 ½ out of 5 spots •••.

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