A few days back John reviewed the first of this years two Snow White based movies, Julie Roberts comedy Mirror Mirror. It seems appropriate then that I take up the mantle and review its darker counterpart Snow White and the Huntsman, a grittier and slightly more authentic take on the original story. It’s not quite true to the original tale, but all the major components are there making for a more serious tone.
Starring Charlize Theron and Kristen Stewart as the two female leads we immediately run into the first of the movies problems in the way it asks you to suspend belief. You are expected from the outset to believe that Snow White – the fairest of them all – is the prettiest most beautiful thing in the land, outshining the beauty of the evil queen herself. Why then do you place the delightful Miss Theron up against the sneering flared nostriled man face of Kristen Stewart?
To be fair, I don’t particularly like her and I admit that being forced to look at her for two hours probably spoiled my enjoyment of the movie more than it should have and so that’ll be the last of the snide comments to that end in this review. The cast here is actually pretty good with Thor himself Chris Hemsworth still making my other half go weak at the knees and a great supporting cast of mostly British actors including Ian McShane, Ray Winstone and Nick Frost as you’ve never seen them before. I won’t spoil how for you as it was something I was really surprised to see played down in trailers considering their parts importance in the plot. With the exception of the good old boys I just mentioned, the cast performances are OK with no real stand outs or highlights to speak of. Charlize Theron hams it up so much though you could serve her for Sunday dinner (mmmmmm, yes please) and there’s a collection of increasingly bad accents such as Chris Hemsworth’s Scottish accent and everyone else’s default “fantasy” voice.
With regards to the trailer, one thing I would warn you about is if you’re going to see this expecting a dark fantasy film, then you’re going to be fairly disappointed. Yes it does have magic in it as you would expect, but from the deceptive trailers it looks like there’s a menagerie of mystical beasts featuring throughout when in reality there are only a couple of scenes and half of those are imagination. It’s an issue I had with the movie overall in fact, in that it wasn’t quite sure what its identity was. It’s not quite sure if it’s a fantasy film, a war film, a love story, or a fairy tale. In fact it’s a bit of a mix of everything and as such its unfulfilling in the end.
I think that the film makers wanted to go for a more mature stance, yet didn’t want to risk alienating a teenage audience by pushing the rating up. It’s a shame really as it could have been a very good grown up interpretation of an already pretty spooky original tale. The identity crisis means that any romantic aspects aren’t executed with any passion, fantasy aspects are relegated to some admittedly very good CGI, fairy tale aspects are lost in the translation to a young adult audience, and when it’s trying to be a war movie there’s no gore and people seem to brush off axe wounds like they were being tickled instead.
Saying all that, the story is decent enough, and at around two hours long it doesn’t feel boring or like it’s dragging on at all. You can see considerably worse films than this so if you’ve gone to see something else instead and it’s full, you can do a lot worse than this as a backup plan. I wouldn’t tell anyone to put it high on their list of films to see, yet I don’t think I’d go so far as pushing people away from it. It won’t be making it to my blu-ray collection though, that’s for sure.