Starring Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin and Bob Hoskins
Written by Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossien Amini
Directed by Rupert Sanders
2012’s second reinvention of the classic Snow White tale, Snow White and the Huntsman, arrives in theaters this week hoping it can knock Will Smith out of the top slot. The movie unabashedly borrows from a multitude of sources, a more apt title may be Snow White and the Neverending Story of the Fellowship of the Chronicles of Narnia, but this is not necessarily something to be reviled as it produces a movie much better than my expectations.
We start with a Hemsworth narrated prologue in which we hear the origins of this version’s Snow White character. Snow White is a princess whose mother has passed away while she was still a child. Her father, the King, is then tricked into marrying the villainous Ravenna (Theron) who immediately betrays the King and assumes the throne with the help of her brother. The young Snow attempts to flee with the help of her childhood friend Matthew and his father, only to be thwarted. After years of imprisonment, the older Snow White (Stewart) is recognized by the legendary mirror on the wall as being the fairest of them all and the cause of Ravenna’s downfall. It’s when she is to be delivered to the Queen for execution that Snow manages an escape. Ravenna forces the Huntsman (Hemsworth) to go after her and he reluctantly agrees though he has no love for the queen. The Huntsman quickly discovers where Snow White is but becomes her protector, not her executioner. En route to one of her Father’s supporters, Matthew’s father, Snow encounters many including the Dwarves (Hoskins and a litany of English actors I will not ruin the surprise of here), Fairies, a mystical Elk and many more. The group, as she is now joined by the Elves in her journey, are pursued relentlessly by a group led by Ravenna’s brother Finn (Sam Spruell) and a group of followers including the also now grown Matthew (Claflin). The film continues through the Apple betrayal, a much different source this time around, all the way to final battle sequence for the kingdom at the end.
Snow White and the Huntsman succeeds in delivering the fun, popcorn munching experience that last month’s Battleship so clearly failed in doing. Charlize Theron is completely over the top here and enjoying every minute of it. She manages to bring gravitas to the role and her ultimate conclusion is very satisfying. Kristen Stewart manages to do nothing different than any of the Twilight pics, but even though she is playing the titular role in the film, her dialogue is kept to a minimum. She does deliver one the most underwhelming and lacklustre ‘rousing battle speech’ sequences in film history, but ultimately her performance is not poor enough to ruin the experience. Hemsworth does some fine work here and is on quite a roll right now with Cabin in the Woods and Avengers already out this year (and both of those are clearly superior to this, see the links for reviews). His Huntsman actually carries some emotional impact that a lesser actor cast for mere looks would have completely lost in translation. The dwarves are a fun reveal and almost all are recognizable faces.
I mentioned before that the film borrows freely from other films, like having identical shots to The Fellowship’s trek through identical locations from the first Lord of the Rings film and a “dark woods” sequence that plays out very similar to the Swamp of Sorrows from Neverending Story. In fact the environmental impact from Ravenna’s rule is reminiscent of both films, with Ravenna pacing in here castle reminiscent of Saruman in his tower. That said the effects in this are solid, one sequence involving a Troll I thought was especially effective, and the fact that the film avoids one of those uber sappy sequences with Snow and one of her protectors that films like these almost always includes works for me a great deal.
Ultimately you could do a lot worse in your Cineplex this weekend, Snow White and the Huntsman is a recommend, not a strong recommend, but a recommend none the less.
Till Next Time,
Movie Junkie TO
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