Film Review – Snow White and the Huntsman

Snow White and the Huntsman (M)

Directed by: Rupert Sanders

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron

Two stars

Review by: Julian Wright

The tale of Snow White was ripe for a theatrical retelling. No, don’t laugh. Sure, in the 75 years since Disney’s unbeatable animated classic, the story has been told so many times (a dark Sigourney Weaver TV movie in 1997 and a dreadful modern teen version starring Amanda Bynes in 2007, to name just two) that we can recite it by heart, but throw in a visionary director, a generous budget, some meta conscious scribes and there is the opportunity for something special. Hey, there is nothing wrong with trying to stay positive.

Admittedly, two in one year (the cheery Mirror Mirror was released merely three months ago) is a bit of stretch but that was just an unfortunate coincidence. The zany former version was family friendly which left room for another interpretation of the story. Not so problematic, so long as it adds something new to the fold. Unfortunately, that opportunity was not seized here.

The tone of Snow White and the Huntsman is the polar opposite to Mirror Mirror – darker treatment, more evil Queen stuff and epic war battles. But this is almost a carbon copy of the Brothers Grimm story, offering no plot surprises and yet stretching it out to a painful two-hour running time. To retell such a common story without any attempt to mix it up even a little has proven to be a wasted opportunity.

You know the drill – an evil, youth obsessed witch (Charlize Theron) marries a king, bumps him off, becomes ruler and keeps his daughter, the embodiment of beauty, Snow White (Kristen Stewart) locked up out of jealousy. Snow White escapes her tower prison so the Queen hires loutish man (Chris Hemsworth) to kill her. There is even the poisoned apple. Oh and there are dwarfs. Eight of them (?!). The only things that the three script writers (count ’em, three!) could come up with to make this story their own was digging a bit deeper when it comes to the Queen’s motivations and upping the scale with a battle to take back the kingdom.

Director Rupert Sanders, a whiz at filming commercials, dishes up some splendid visuals but with so few distinctions from previous versions, this quickly becomes a bit of a yawner. Not only is the familiarity off-putting, but this all plays out at a snail’s pace for an almost unbearable two hours. It is here that Sanders, making his feature film debut, still has a bit to learn about pacing and momentum when it comes to telling stories.

Theron turns in an appropriately seething performance and her character’s compulsion to remain beautiful resonates with today’s appearance means everything attitude. Hemsworth and Stewart are a watchable couple on-screen, but Stewart’s screen presence takes a tumble in the later stages when the script calls on her to deliver an inspirational speech – which she is clearly incapable of doing. With so many strikes against this version, it is quite apparent which Snow White film this year was the fairest.

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One Response to “Film Review – Snow White and the Huntsman”

  1. Twoinone Mirror Has…

    […] posite to Mirror Mirror – darker treatment, more evil Queen stuff and epic war […]…

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