When the trailers for Rupert Sanders’ (first film) Snow White & the Huntsman started appearing I was very intrigued. Going against the Disney version of the story this film looked more like the original Grimm fairytale. Dark, dangerous and almost gothic in tone. Snow White looked more like a girl who could take care of herself rather than a princess who needed rescuing by the prince. The visuals looked amazing which was not surprising considering Sanders’ past experience as a director of commercials including one for the video game Halo 3. The two female leads, Charlize Theron and Kristen Stewart, seemed perfectly cast in their roles. It certainly looked like a film I could really sink my teeth into. Amazingly despite all it seemed to have going for it the film ended up being a disappointment.
Ruler of the kingdom of Tabor, King Magnus (Noah Huntley – 28 Days Later…, Event Horizon) is a man who is left an empty shell when his beloved wife dies. When Queen Eleanor (Liberty Ross – W.E.) dies she not only leaves behind her grieving husband, but also a young daughter who desperately needs her mother.
While successfully defending his land from an attack by the Dark Army the King meets amongst the prisoners a stunning blonde hair, green eyed woman. She is the beautiful Ravenna (Charlize Theron – Monster, Hancock) and she captures the heart of the lonely King. On the night of their wedding her intent becomes clear. Ravenna wants to rule Tabor and kills her husband the King in the throes of passion.
The citizens of Tabor realize that Ravenna is not a benevolent woman and try to flee. Duke Hammond (Vincent Regan – 300, Troy) and his son William (Sam Clafin – Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) are able to escape, but are not able to bring the young princess. She is captured by Ravenna’s brother, Finn (Sam Spruell – The Hurt Locker, Defiance – 2008), and put in a remote tower to live as a prisoner.
When Snow White (Kristen Stewart – Twilight, Into the Wild) comes of age, Ravenna’s magic mirror tells her that her spell of eternal youth is in jeopardy due to the purity of the young woman. The mirror goes on to tell her that she will only obtain immortality if she consumes the heart of Snow White. Learning that Snow White has managed to escape from the tower Ravenna engages the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth – Thor, The Avengers) to recapture Snow White with the promise that she can bring back to life his adored deceased wife. Once he does manage to get his hands on Snow White the Huntsman realizes that he cannot do what is asked of him, so he ends up teaming up with the princess with the aim of ridding Tabor of Ravenna.
As I said my excitement turned to disappointment pretty quickly once I started watching the film. As is often the case the story is the big letdown. The pacing of the entire film is off. Sanders might be a wonder with the visuals, but he still needs to learn how to tell a story. The dialogue is poorly written for the most part. You can feel the potential and it is frustrating when they never reach it.
A big part of the downfall of the film is the poor effort turned in by lead Kristen Stewart. Her portrayal of Snow White is awkward, wooden and she just simply looks miscast. It almost seems as if she doesn’t understand the emotions required at certain parts of the film. For instance, the scene where she makes a big speech to inspire the men of Tabor to join her in a fight against Ravenna is laughable. She is supposed to be urging them on and just seems shrill and phony. I’m not going to be one of the many who dismiss the young actress as a no talent. Especially since the scandal over what happened between Sanders and Stewart. I just think that she needed to recalibrate her performance. The talent is there and it is an instinctual one; I just hope she is given another chance (there is a rumour of another Snow White film) and if she is Stewart won’t get it wrong twice.
Really there are only two reasons to see this film. One is performance as the Evil Queen by Charlize Theron and the other is for the visuals. Theron really sinks her teeth into this role. It is different from anything else that we’ve seen her do. She really is evil and cold. Makes the Queen seem larger than life due to Theron’s own large stature. It easily could have been a caricature or two-dimensional character, but in Theron’s hand the character of Ravenna becomes a fully fleshed out baddie. Ravenna is bad to the core and yet Theron instills enough humanity and vulnerability to make us feel sorry for her on occasion. The only weakness to the performance is her dodgy English accent. The visuals are magical and beautiful to look at. Sanders undeniably has talent in this area. Even his fight scenes look different from any that we have seen before. It does make me think, though, that if perhaps as much attention as was paid to the development of the story, dialogue and pacing as how the film looks the end result would have been very different.
-A New Legend is Born
-Reinventing the Fairytale
-Citizens of the Kingdom
-The Magic of Snow White and the Huntsman
-Around the Kingdom: 360˚ Set Tour
-Ultraviolent Digital Copy