This is not your parents’ Snow White!
Director Rupert Sanders presents us with a much darker story than any previous version. In fact, Snow White and the Huntsman plays out more as an action film than a fairy tale. To be sure, there are fantastical elements in it, but there are also fierce battles and fights to the death. The story line features some of the elements of the original tale, such as the fair princess and the evil stepmother/queen, but the prince plays an almost peripheral role. Instead, Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman furnishes the strong male presence in this film.
The film really belongs to Charlize Theron who, as Ravenna, rules the screen as well as Snow White’s father’s kingdom. Theron’s Ravenna is not just an evil practitioner of black magic, she’s also the power-hungry survivor of a brutal childhood. She has learned to use her beauty to control, and sometimes defeat, men, and has used the black arts to keep her youthful appearance. Theron gives us a complex villain -- not just an evil queen. Ravenna also has an evil brother, Finn, well-acted by Sam Spruell. I hope they paid him extra for the bad haircut!
Kristen Stewart portrays Snow White, and since there is no universe in which Stewart is fairer than Charlize Theron, the script writers hint around at Snow White having the “fairer heart.” Indeed, it’s Snow White’s heart that Ravenna wants because she knows that only Snow White has the power to defeat her. Stewart is an actress of limited range, but she does an adequate job as the young princess. She certainly deserves credit for throwing herself whole-heartedly into the action sequences. She actually suffered two fairly serious , production-delaying injuries on the set -- one to her wrist, and another to her ankle. However, when Stewart and Theron are onscreen together, Theron overpowers her completely.
And now for the guys in the film! When Snow White escapes from the tower where Ravenna has kept her imprisoned for many years and flees to the Dark Forest, Ravenna enlists the help of the only man to survive a trip into said forest. Chris Hemsworth acts his heart out as Eric, the widowed, drunken, despairing Huntsman. He proves, yet again, that he can make the most ridiculous lines seem plausible. Of course, he’s wonderful in the action sequences, but he’s also effective as Snow White’s mentor and trainer, once he learns who she is and is won over by her goodness and beauty. The same cannot be said for Sam Claflin who plays the prince, William. He really doesn’t have much of a role in this version of the tale, but he also does little with what he’s given. I began to wonder why he was even in it!
Visually, the film is stunning. Filmed against the backdrop of England and Wales’s rugged coastal terrain, the film looks dangerous and forbidding – as it should since it deals with the struggle between good and evil. Audiences will be captivated by the special effects, and not just in the Dark Forest and the battle sequences. The dwarves -- yes, there are dwarves -- realm captivates with its beauty as it’s an actual fairyland. It’s there that Snow White’s destiny is revealed and the film picks up steam as it moves toward its inevitable conclusion. It’s no easy journey, though, and the film makers keep you guessing until the final scene.
Although the film’s pace is a bit slow, fans of the fantasy genre won’t be disappointed. This is definitely not a “chick flick”, so guys, don’t be afraid to go!