Movie Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

The buzz started in the summer of 2011 at Comic-Con when first-time Director Rupert Sanders showed a glimpse of a two-minute clip and the sumptuous costumes donned by the stars.  It quickly grew from there and “Snow White and the Huntsman” became the fairy tale to watch in 2012.

Charlize Theron (“Prometheus“) embodies the malevolent queen, Queen Ravenna, who craves for royal power and timeless beauty.  The back story makes her the most interesting character.  Flashing back to her childhood, she first learned black magic through a tragedy and found that beauty would give her the ultimate power.  She carries her revenge from kingdom to kingdom, pretending to be a battle victim and putting herself in a position to be discovered by kings, wins their hearts with her beauty, and eventually kills them.  With the help of her equally twisted brother (Sam Spruell), she takes over their kingdoms.

Time and time again, the golden mirror tells Queen Ravenna that she’s the fairest of them all.  That is until Snow White (Kristen Stewart, “Twilight”), daughter of the slayed King Magnus (Noah Huntley), locked up in a tower for years, comes of age.  She believes that the mirror reveals a secret; if she consumes Snow White’s heart, she would no longer have to drain souls to maintain her youth.

When being picked up from her cell by the queen’s brother, Snow White seizes the opportunity and cleverly escapes from the castle through a sewer and plunges into a raging sea.  And thus the adventure begins.  Hunted by the soldiers, she ventures into a haunted forest.  Because this forest is the one place where Queen Ravenna’s power doesn’t reach, she orders a huntsman (Chris Hemsworth, “The Avengers, “Thor“)  to search and capture Snow White.

A heartbroken widower, the huntsman is a drunkard and feels that he has nothing to live for, until the queen promises him to bring his wife back from the dead.  After running into Snow White and realizing who she is, the rightful heir to the throne, he gradually becomes her protector and mentor.  He develops a sense of purpose and decides to fight for what he believes in.

Both do their best to survive the dangerous terrains and creatures of the forest, while running into and battling the queen’s men.  Somewhere along their journey, they come across the dwarfs (Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, Bob Hoskins, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan,  Toby Jones, Brian Gleeson), who in due course join forces and introduces them to the sanctuary, or the land of fairies.  Meanwhile, William (Sam Claflin, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides“), a duke’s son from Snow White’s childhood, who at the time of the king’s death was able to break away from the riots, learns that she’s still alive and tracks her down.

The queen’s relentless pursuit of Snow White finally bears fruit and the princess falls to the brink of death.  A twist in a heartfelt moment brings Snow White back to life, where she reunites with the Duke Hammond (Vincent Regan) and leads the army to wage war against the Evil Queen.  The dwarfs are underutilized overall, but they do play a key role in the war.

Snow White may be the star of the tale, but acting-wise, Stewart acts just like Kristen Stewart.  The Evil Queen, on the other hand, steals the stage with Theron’s portrayal.  Icily evil, she’s devilishly menacing and ruthless to the core.  Hemsworth, out of his otherworldly persona here, is quite solid.

The film’s strength lies on the dazzling visual, which includes expansive vistas of mountains, ocean, cliffs and castle.  Theron’s elaborate costumes, glittering with gold or metal, or covered in beads or feathers, are artfully admirable.  The superb cinematography and art direction deserve praise, but they could shorten the middle part of the story.  Snow White has never been a damsel in distress, but more time could be spent on developing her transformation of into a leader who inspires her people and her turning into a warrior princess, and in turn making the battle more climatic.

“Snow White and the Huntsman” has all the elements of the classic tale; Snow White, Evil Queen, Prince Charming, Dwarfs, Dark Forest, Poisonous Apple.  Although much darker and edgier, not to mention violent, it appeals to the masses, with a straightforward story of good versus evil, and good prevails.  The other contemporary adaptation of the tale this year, “Mirror Mirror,” is lighthearted, whimsical, and wickedly hilarious.  But if it’s epic adventure and action you’re looking for, go for “Snow White and the Huntsman.”

Copyright (c) 2012. Nathalia Aryani.

Nathalia Aryani is a business manager, foreign language translator, travel/lifestyle writer and film columnist. She can be reached at indotransserv@gmail.com. Nathalia owns a movies blog, The MovieMaven (http://sdmoviemaven.blogspot.com). Twitter: http://twitter.com/the_moviemaven

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