Movie Review: Snow White & the Huntsman [M] – #SnowWhite

Director:  Rupert Sanders

Starring: Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Sam Spruell, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Toby Jones, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan,

Running Time :  127 minutes

Release Date :   June 21, 2012

From the very first moment, you know you’re in for a visual feast. The opening scenes set up a very gothic story of a beautiful Queen who wishes for nothing more than a daughter.  As three drops of blood stain the snow, her wish is granted. The kingdom rejoices but their joy is shortlived as their beloved Queen dies.  The King soon remarries the ravishing Ravenna (Theron) who is visibly jealous of the young Snow White (Stewart). As Ravenna walks down the aisle on her wedding day, all eyes are on the young Princess. Snow White’s fate has been sealed.

After the death of her father, the young Snow White is imprisoned by the evil new Queen. The gorgeous and vain Queen has a myriad of magical powers and with the help of her creepy brother Finn (Spruell) rules the Kingdom with a cruel hand. It isn’t long before all is dead and desolate.

On Snow’s 18th birthday, the magic mirror tells the Queen she is no longer the fairest in the land and to reclaim the title, she must have the heart of Snow White. Coincidentally, on this day Snow White escapes her tower prison and heads into the dark forest, a place the Queen has no power, magical or otherwise.  So the Queen sends a huntsman (Hemsworth), a man grieving the loss of his young wife and with nothing left to lose, to kill Snow White and bring back her heart.

The huntsman realises he has been duped and agrees to take Snow White to the castle of Duke Hammond, who was her father’s dear friend and advisor and who fights still to oust the evil Queen Ravenna.  Along the way, they encounter others who wish to see their beloved kingdom restored to it’s former glory, including 8 dwarfs and an array of magical creatures both fair and foul.

Theron is divine as Queen Ravenna. Unlike other versions of the Snow White tale, this movie offers a back story for the Queen and you actually feel empathy for her. Theron moves effortlessly between a sad, damaged, inwardly reflecting young woman who has suffered at the hands of many to an overtly theatrical and dramatic Queen who will stop at nothing to achieve her goals. As fine an actress as she is, Theron is perfection when she is overplaying the drama, just shy of the absurd. The Queen’s costumes are gothic fantasy brought to life and should certain moments have been downplayed by even the arch of an eyebrow or the sweep of an arm, you fear Theron would have been engulfed by the costumes themselves.

Hemsworth is a fine huntsman with just the right amount of brawn, brains and bravado to play the hero. Having literally just walked off the Avenger’s set, Hemsworth was in fine physical form to play a sword wielding Scotsman, who sets out to rescue not only the damsel but an entire kingdom. My only complaint is that the thick Scottish drawl Hemsworth adopts for the role was difficult to understand at times.

Stewart, as the feisty Snow White, was the real surprise here. First of all, I was stunned at how beautiful she is in this movie. She was entirely believable as a young woman whose beauty could threaten that of the Queen.  Of course, her beauty was not quite the ethereal, ice queen beauty of Theron but more an earthy, Boadicea, warrior woman type of beauty. In fact, I couldn’t help but compare Stewart’s Snow White to the heroic Joan of Arc as she fought for her people. There is a lot to be said for a woman who will fight at the side of her men and not simply issue instructions and cast spells to aid her quest.

Yeah, take that Queen Ravenna!

Stewart’s acting could use some finesse, especially the deep emoting moments, but this is a young woman with the world at her feet and apparently, a lot to prove. Oh yes, I have seen the snide comments about Stewart and ‘Bella’ and I feel if you cannot walk into a movie theatre and differentiate between two separate, and very different, characters, then the fault lies with you, not the actor. I’m not seeing many comparisons between Hemsworth’s Thor and his Huntsman even though the similarities are indisputable, so why the Stewart hate?

The special effects, as evidenced by the trailer, are spectacular. From the very gothic and vaguely creepy magic mirror sequences, the non-human armies and the scenes involving the ravens, we are swept into a magical world of sorcery and spell casting. The sets are huge, dark and foreboding. The dark forest is literally alive. The castle is set apart from the rest of the kingdom and the only colour of real note is the colour of spilled blood. The dwarves are wonderfully crafted with the faces of some very familiar actors digitally placed onto the bodies of real life little people. It is very effective.

I really enjoyed this dark re-telling of the Snow White tale. It is a fine complementary partner to 2012’s other Snow White movie, the high camp and very quirky Mirror, Mirror. The two are as different as night and day and thus complement each other perfectly. These movies show that an eye cast over the same story can envision two very separate outcomes.

Special mention for the most adorable fairy/pixies I have seen for a long time. No glitter or pink for these fairies, these are the pixies of childhood dreams…..or my long lost Brownie lore.

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