Snow White and the Huntsman is a “once upon a time” fairytale designed for mature audiences that prefer their dark fantasy tales with a slice of realism. Although it’s a far stretch from the musical Disney cartoon from yesteryear all the basic elements of the story remain intact – evil step mother, seven dwarfs, a huntsman… and a pail-skin sword-fighting step daughter? Perhaps a few things have been revised, but there is little doubt that Snow White and the Huntsman, a dark and ferocious update, stands a head taller than Mirror Mirror.
The story of Snow White, originally published by The Brothers Grimm, has been around for centuries and has been retold a countless amount of times in different ways and forms – plays, novels, TV shows and even comic books. Thankfully this version stays more true to the original German folk tale, exchanging cute, heartwarming characters for much darker ones. Where Mirror Mirror aims to be a family film, Snow White and the Huntsman aims to be much more epic, offering huge action packed Lord of the Rings-type battles sequences with exceptional special effects. Strangely, Snow White, which garnered much attention because of Twilight star Kristen Stewart, doesn’t seem to be the center of the attention here. Instead Charlize Theron’s performance as the beautiful and darkly magical Queen Ravenna, a fascinating villain, steals the show.
Following the narrative of the original, the film opens up with Snow White’s father’s death. He is murdered on his wedding night to the cruel Queen Ravella. His death brings upon many changes in the kingdom. Ravella is elevated to ruler and Snow is kept prisoner in the castle’s north tower. When an opportunity presents itself Snow White escapes and flees into the Dark Forest. The queen sends a drunken huntsman after her, but when the two meet he realizes that there might be something more to the girl than everyone is letting on. Together they set off for a distant land, encountering trolls, fairies and dwarves along the way.
While much of the film makes for adequate entertainment, there seems to be a lot amiss in Snow White and the Huntsman. The love story for one fails to be relevant, especially when considering the lack of chemistry between Hemsworth and Stewart. Stewart also lacks the ability to pull off the warrior princess role convincingly. Her final monologue, during the crescendo of the film, falls completely flat.
It’s enjoyable popcorn fun, but with the exception of Charlize’s performance, the film remains uneven.