[Review] – Snow White and the Huntsman

1 Jun

Title: Snow White and the Huntsman
Year: 2012
Director: Rupert Sanders
Writers: Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini, based on the screen story by Mr. Daugherty, based on the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Lily Cole, Ian McShane, Johnny Harris, Bob Hoskins, Toby Jones, Eddie Marsan, Brian Gleeson, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost
MPAA Rating: PG-13, intense sequences of violence and action, and brief sensuality
Runtime: 127 min
IMDb Rating: 6.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 50%
Metacritic: 56

It’s been nearly a month and a half since I saw Tarsem Singh‘s Mirror Mirror, the first of the year’s two Snow White-inspired movies. And ever since, lots of people have been patiently waiting compare that to this film, Rupert SandersSnow White and the Huntsman, after all, two films based on the same property released in the same year is not something that happens all that often. Now, granted, the two films are widely different in their approach to the classic Brothers Grimm tale, with Mirror Mirror being this candy-colored PG-rated family affair, and this one being a much darker interpretation of the timeless story, but comparisons were still inevitable.

Now, I personally wasn’t that big a fan of Mirror Mirror. I mean, I definitely appreciated the visual stuff which was absolutely gorgeous, because that’s what Mr. Singh is known for, but story-wise the film was pretty mediocre, not really having a sense of energy and not really bringing any new life into the story. I ended up giving it a C+, most of that coming because I loved how the film looked, but it evidently didn’t raise the bar all that high for Mr. Sanders’ film. So I’m happy to report that, much like I expected, Snow White and the Huntsman came out handily on top in the battle of the Snow White movies, delivering a dark take on the fairy tale that just really worked for me, even if there were some other elements of it that weren’t up to par.

Kristen Stewart is the one in charge of playing Snow White in this film. And if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you might know how fond I am of Ms. Stewart as an actress. She’s criticized quite a bit because people like to say that she has no range whatsoever, that she looks exactly the same when portraying sadness as when she’s portraying excitement. And even though there’s some truth to that, I always feel she brings something really fresh to her performances, a really welcome kind of emotional sincerity that I love, not in the Twilight films of course, but go take a look at films like Into the Wild, The Runaways and, especially, Adventureland, and then tell me she’s a one-trick pony. She’s fucking wonderful.

Anyways, my own personal love for Ms. Stewart aside, the thing that sets this portrayal of Snow White aside from the other ones we’ve seen is the fact that she’s not the damsel in distress kind of princess, she’s the kind of princess that can kick some serious ass. Charlize Theron is in charge of playing the very evil Queen Ravenna, slowly but surely conquering all the kingdoms in the continent, until her magic mirror informs her that her stepdaughter, Snow White, is fairer than her, and will eventually overthrow her unless, of course, Ravenna kills her, eats her heart and becomes immortal. So the Queen orders a Huntsman to track Snow White in the Dark Forest where she’s escaped and kill her. But when he finds her she wins him over, and he teaches her the arts of war necessary to bring down the Queen, with her childhood love, Prince William, and eight (not seven) skillful dwarves at hand to aid them in that mission.

Let me tell you guys that this just absolutely works. It manages to take a story that’s an absolute classic by now, and delivers it in this new setting that looks seriously stunning and that has a great deal of imagination at work. The script may not be a great piece of work, that’s what prevents me from calling this film absolutely great, but boy is this film a truly thrilling ride every single step of the way. I just loved how dark and gritty it all looked, from the gothic castle to supernatural abilities the Queen uses to how this particular iteration of her magic mirror behaves. And then you have the dark forest and the enchanted fairyland, and those are just truly memorable locations that works fantastically here.

The acting, too, is actually really good. Ms. Stewart is truly effective as the kick-ass princess, and the accent she dons, which is somewhat British, is decent enough, especially working when she gives this big speech to set off the big climatic battle. Charlize Theron, another actress I’m a massive fan of, is just having the time of her life playing the evil queen of this version, giving her all to this super fierce kind of role and coming out on top because of it. Chris Hemsworth is Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman, which is actually a good thing. And the dwarves are played by really good actors that include Ian McShane, Toby Jones and Nick Frost. So, yes, we’re in damn good hands here.

I’m just honestly truly surprised by how much Snow White and the Huntsman worked for me. And I just wish the story could have been as good as I wanted it to be for me to call it a truly great one. The characters could have been much more complex, and the pacing is somewhat lacking, that much is true and I blame that on the script. But, then again, that the characters are as complex as they already are here is much more than what we would usually get from a summer blockbuster.

Still, I just wasn’t expecting a film like this, with performances as all-around solid, and a visual style that was something to behold. On that note, let me end this review by commending director Rupert Sanders, a man making his feature debut after working on commercials and video games, this film just shows a lot of promise from him, and I can’t wait to see what he does next. On, and yeah, somewhere in this review there’s the 500’000th word I’ve written in these two years and five months I’ve been writing these reviews, which I’m quite proud of. Huh, guess I wanted to steal the spotlight away from Mr. Sanders for the closing remarks.

Grade: B+

2 Responses to “[Review] – Snow White and the Huntsman”

  1. youjivinmeturkey June 1, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

    I’ve Been Anxious About Seeing This One.
    I Saw The Preview For “Mirror, Mirror” And Said “Nope. Looks Like BS To Me.”
    HOWEVER, “Snow White & The Huntsman” Looks AWESOME.
    So I’m Ready For It, Fo SHO!
    -BRAD

  2. colincarman June 3, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    An unexpected treat indeed! Here, here…

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