[The Social Opportunist] Movie Review – Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)

Written by Phil June 06, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)

To be honest, I was a little weary to go and watch Snow White and the Huntsman at the theatre this week. The recent craze over this Disney-dominated fairy tale made absolutely no sense to me while the other recent adaptation, Mirror, Mirror, made me view the whole thing as a big joke. However, the trailers for this most recent version intrigued me. It didn’t seem to be just another goofy remake, but a serious reimagination of the original tale for older audiences. I would’ve been fighting my own natural instincts had I avoided the film! While I am slowly becoming exhausted watching remake after remake and sequel after sequel (which seems to be the norm nowadays), there was something about this movie that made me really want to see it. I should note that that “something” was definitely not Kristen Stewart, who, as we all know, has no appeal whatsoever. But, in spite of her participation in the movie, it offered up something, let’s say, magical. Please enjoy the review!

Check out the trailer below before reading the review, just to give yourself a little context (or if you’ve already seen it, a little reminder).

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-UMNSVX7_I]

***WARNING: The following review may contain spoilers.***

Based on the original German fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, Snow White and the Huntsman tells the intersecting stories of two major characters: the princess Snow White (Kristen Stewart) and her evil stepmother, the witch Ravenna (Charlize Theron). After Snow White’s mother passes away, her father, King Magnus, courts and marries Ravenna, who promptly murders him on the night of their wedding and overthrows his kingdom, taking it all for her own. For 15 years, Snow White is locked in one of the castle’s towers while the King’s allies are driven from the kingdom and the land is thrown into despair. Ravenna, with the help of her magic mirror, discovers that she can remain young and powerful forever if she takes the heart of Snow White, who the mirror deems the fairest in all the land. However, the princess manages to escape, forcing the Queen to enlist Eric the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to retrieve her from the Dark Forest. After Eric is betrayed by the Ravenna, the two join forces (along with a team of rowdy dwarves and the King’s last remaining allies) in hopes of defeating the evil Queen and reclaiming the kingdom that rightfully belongs to Snow White.

Eric the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) and Snow White (Kristen Stewart) try to escape the clutches of the evil Queen.

Those people walking into this movie looking for fantastical whimsy, bewildering magic and true romance would have been wildly disappointed. Snow White and the Huntsman instead felt like something out of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Given that it was based off the original fairy tale and not a remake of the Disney version, it took on a much darker and sinister tone than any of its predecessors. However, this was what made the film appealing! The people who developed this movie were smart enough to realize that the people who used to watch Snow White have grown up and are interested in something a little less cartoony and a little more dramatic. The dark overtones that resonated throughout the movie added a whole new level of emotion and excitement to a story that we all assumed we knew well and had seen before. And, despite the length of the movie (which seemed rather long), I found myself engaged enough in the story to see it through to the end with all the attention I was able to give it at the beginning.

There was some definite hits and some obvious misses with the cast of this film however. Let’s start with the title character of Snow White, as played by the ever emotionless Kristen Stewart. With a character that is supposed to be pure and kind, there was a real shallowness to Stewart’s performance that made her seem cold throughout the entire movie. Should any of us be surprised though? Knowing what I know of the Twilight series, this is just business as usual with her. The producers could have easily found another actress to butcher this role, and we all would’ve been way better off. It is a relief that, despite the movie being called Snow White and the Huntsman, Stewart’s Snow White wasn’t really the main character and didn’t receive significant attention. Conversely, the other character in the movie’s title, Eric the Huntsman, was actually portrayed quite successfully by Chris Hemsworth. This is the fourth movie I’ve reviewed with Hemsworth (see the reviews for Cabin in the WoodsThor and The Avengers) and I get more and more impressed with each new movie. The guy, while playing a similar character in each of these films, demonstrates some real diversity as an actor, with the ability to simultaneous showcase both his strong and sensitive sides.

Ravenna (Charlize Theron) contemplates the fate of her next victim.

But, let’s be honest here. The real standout in Snow White and the Huntsman is Charlize Theron as the witch Queen Ravenna. I can say with confidence that I have never been more attracted to this woman than I was watching her in this movie. I didn’t know that Theron had it in her to be so successful at portraying a supremely evil character that could terrify so easily. Theron’s Ravenna was an intense character that played out every twisted emotion on her face for all to see, making the audience both understand and fear the character’s hellbent desire for power. However, Theron was also able to have the Ravenna’s tortured soul shine through every once in a while, whether it was through flashback scenes or simply in conversations with her equally as demented brother. It allowed for an empathy and understanding you didn’t think would be possible for a character that had almost no redeeming qualities (by conventional standards) besides her beauty. While the chapter is obviously closed on this role, I hope that Theron takes the opportunity to be the villain in future projects.

It must be said that, even if you didn’t enjoy the plot or the characters, it was hard to deny that the movie looked amazing. Everything from the Queen’s castle to the Dark Forest to the fairy homeland was perfectly chosen and resonated so strongly with the audience as to completely defined the feel of the movie. The director used the atmosphere to evoke feelings and allow people to better understand the movie as a whole. That being said, the graphics weren’t shoved in your face like some other films. Snow White and the Huntsman was so perfectly subtle in its use of computer-generated graphics that you were still able to focus on the story while being significantly entranced by what you were seeing on the screen. Even the dwarves, who could have easily resulted in a huge blunder, were done with finesse. While I was aware that most of the dwarves weren’t actually that small in real life (given that I recognized Shaun of the Dead’s Nick Frost almost immediately), this was almost indistinguishable in the film. This proves that there really are no limits to what technology can do for films!

After watching Snow White and the Huntsman, I was both surprised and, at the same time, not surprised at all. I subconsciously believed that this definitely was not going to be a movie for me, but given what I knew about some of the actors and what I had seen in the trailers, I somehow knew that it would be right up my alley. While a few key roles could and should have been recast (or maybe just the one), it really didn’t detract too much from the success of the film. This may not have been the greatest movie I’ve even seen, given a few slow scenes interspersed throughout, but it was definitely an entertaining and worthwhile ride. There is no doubt it deserves to be considered among this summer’s best blockbuster movies!

OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10

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