Snow White and the Huntsman

On first impression I thought Snow White and the Huntsman was going to be boring and unimaginative – another pointless adaptation that recycles the old story simply to cash in on the wave of fantasy films (and TV shows) coming out at the moment. But I was very pleasantly surprised. It is a brilliantly dark, twisted take on the fairytale from first-time feature director Rupert Sanders, filled with great scenes of action and horror.

The story sets out a plot similar to the usual fairytale: the evil witch Ravenna (Charlize Theron) meets and marries King Magnus (Noah Huntley), only to murder him and take over the land he rules. She imprisons his only daughter, Snow White (Kristen Stewart), and cruelly reigns over the kingdom, taking the beauty from young girls so she can never age. But years later, she learns from her magic mirror that she can become immortal if she has the heart of the most beautiful girl in the land; Snow White. But Snow manages to escape into the woods before she can kill her. So the queen sends a Huntsman familiar with the dark forest (Chris Hemsworth) to track her down. But then the film turns into something entirely different, and even though you’ve heard the story a million times before, you’ll find it hard to tell what’s going to happen next.

The one main bugbear I thought I’d have with the film was Kristen Stewart as Snow White. After seeing her terrible twitchy performance as Bella in Twilight (blinking and flared nostrils throughout) I couldn’t understand her being chosen to play another beloved and well-known character here. But again, I was pleasantly surprised. Gone is the blinking acting, replaced with actual talent. It’s the most convincing role she’s done – her OTT acting fits the role well. Ok, so sometimes her overly posh British accent slips and she might sometimes go back into whiny girl mode occasionally, but she holds her own throughout and makes a convincing heroine (which is more than can be said for Bella) who is powerful in her own right.

Chris Hemsworth also makes a mark in another major role as the Huntsman. Although it first looked like he was just playing Thor again, but with more mud and an axe, he’s actually a tough Scottish bloke who has a convincing, and sad, back story; and he also adds some laughs to the proceedings. As do the dwarves when they appear later on in the film (Ray Winstone, Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, Nick Frost, Johnny Harris, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, and Brian Gleeson). But the one person who truly steals the entire film is Charlize Theron as the icy, evil queen Ravenna. She does more OTT scenery chewing than anyone but someone manages to make it convincing and realistic. And boy, can she do scary.

One problem with the film though is it’s too long. Too much time is spent on certain scenes and the dwarves get introduced too late into the film. Clearly this is meant as an establishing film to set up a sequel, so some people might actually be disappointed by the ending as well. Although it does conclude, it still leaves a LOT of things open. The ending itself also seems to happen very suddenly, which will leave a lot of people confused and wanting more. The effects are also good but there is one horrid scene involving unconvincing CGI animals that should have most definitely been left out. And parents be warned – it gets quite gory and horrific in parts, so might not be best to take the kiddies.

So while not without its faults and although it’s more of a set-up film for a sequel, Snow White and the Huntsman is still an enjoyable yet incredibly dark and interesting alternate take on the classic fairytale. There aren’t many laughs in it but it’s still fun to watch and the grubby, medieval design is gorgeous and realistic throughout. I’m betting that the sequel will be ten times more darker and even more entertaining than this though. And it will certainly be intriguing to see where the story is heading next…

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~ by square-eyed-geek on June 25, 2012.

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