Movie Review: Snow White and the Huntsman / Cert: 12A / Director: Rupert Sanders / Screenplay: Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock, Hossein Amini / Starring: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Sam Claflin, Sam Spruell, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, Johnny Harris / Release Date: May 30th
Snow White and the Huntsman is the second film this year to tackle the classic tale, though it takes a darker path than that of its predecessor, Mirror Mirror . The tone is vastly different; an epic tale filled with dark armies, charged battle scenes and some imaginatively grotesque visuals. Playing out like a cross between a tragedy and Lord of the Rings (there is a lot of walking) it is an extremely ambitious film that looks amazing, thanks to the keen eye for computer generated effects from Director Rupert Sanders and the exquisite set and costume design.
Snow (Kristen Stewart) inhabits a dark dungeon beneath a grand castle until she manages to escape from the malevolent Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron). The kingdom is unaware that she is still alive so when she makes a run for it her quest to rise up and defeat the queen is supported by those who have suffered at the hand of Ravenna’s reign. The Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) is introduced as a drunken, reluctant hero with a sad past that Ravenna uses to persuade him into darkness. Hemsworth’s Scottish accent is decent and he is a brutal challenger in the fight scenes, at one point impaling an opponent on the sharp distorted branches of a tree, but he’s no highlander…
Kristen Stewart gets a lot of screen time, but not a lot to say other than a championing monologue. Hemsworth also has an intense monologue that he delivers with vigour. It is Theron’s imposing Ravenna and the visual effects that dominate the screen in this picture. The strong cast of Dwarves that you eventually meet (it takes a while but it’s worth it) played by Nick Frost, Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, Brian Gleeson and Ray Winstone are brilliant, providing not only comic relief but poignant moments too. Sadly though they are underused, and it would have been great to see more of their story. Most of the dwarfs’ names come from the Ogham alphabet, which is in fitting with the medieval feel of the film.
Though the film gets off to a slow start, detailing the background to this fairy-tale, and introducing its own spin on the story, it is a necessary introduction to the motivation behind Ravenna’s wicked ways. Her contempt for the male species, instilled in her by her mother and backed up by an ex-partner who lost interest as she grew older is exceptionally portrayed in Theron’s over the top performance. Theron really goes for it in the role, screaming at the top of lungs and ordering her shadow army – intricate glass soldiers complete with spiky shards that are totally terrifying – with booming assurance. Her costumes including raven feathered cloaks, skeletal like jewellery and a spiked metal finger cuff which she uses to eat the hearts of birds. All the costumes are outstanding (designed by Colleen Atwood) and make the most of her intimidating presence.
Director Rupert Sanders has a background in VFX and advertising and these influences work in his favour for the most part. Though the editing and narrative may lose its way at times the striking visuals help to keep your interest. It takes itself very seriously so you need to be up for being swept away by melodrama, intense gazing and extreme long shots that fully explain the long running time of over two hours.
Expected Rating: 7 out of 10