A retelling of the classic fairytale where a young princess, Snow White (played by Kristen Stewart), has to escape the clutches of her evil stepmother (Charlize Theron) before finally returning – with the huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) who was sent to kill her, and dwarves in tow – to defeat Queen Ravenna and bring peace and tranquillity back to her kingdom.
What we thought:
Like so many "re-imaginings" and "re-interpretations", Snow White and the Huntsman neither re-imagines, nor re-interprets the classic fairy tale enough to ever stand up as more than a forgettable cliff-note within the long and storied legend of Snow White.
The film does stick rather closer to the original fairy tale than the classic Disney cartoon without fully ignoring the latter version, but the film's raison d'etre is that it tries to mix the familiarity of the classic story with a more gritty and realistic take on fantasy that has made George RR Martin's Game of Thrones books and TV series such a success. Sadly, aside for giving the story a welcome feminist slant, it's a mixture that doesn't work and is one that constantly undermines its constituent elements.
The complexities of the fantastical story gets lost in the intentional simplicity of the original tale, while the magical elements of the tale seem out of place and are superseded by the brutal harshness of this nu-fantasy. This oil and water combination is never more apparent than a scene in the middle of the film where, after Snow White and the huntsman meets the dwarves, they all find themselves in a land of fairies that feels like a live-action outtake from the 1930s Disney film.
For the most emblematic proof of just how misjudged the film is, one sadly need only turn to Charlize Theron's wicked stepmother – in this version named Ravenna. Theron is clearly an excellent actress – as she proved most recently with her sublime central performance in Young Adult – so presumably it is first-time director, Rupert Sanders, who is responsible for her embarrassingly wrong-headed turn here.
While the rest of the film boasts a down and dirty feel, Ravenna looks and sounds like she belongs in another film altogether as Theron lays on the camp hamminess to levels that would make William Shatner blush.
To truly appreciate how off her performance is, one need only hold it up against, well, every other actor in the film. The dwarves are probably the highlight of the film as they get the best lines and are played by a terrific selection of top-notch British thesps who look staggeringly authentic thanks to some jaw-droppingly effective CGI but they are still played with a much higher level of earthy bawdiness than their Disney fairy tale counterparts.
Chris Hemsworth, meanwhile, is clearly having a whale of a time as a less pompous version of Thor, while the rest of the supporting cast look like nothing more than Game of Thrones rejects.
As for Kristen Stewart, her performance is the polar opposite of Theron's, but it is equally ineffective. I have no time for the view point that she is miscast because "there's no way that she is fairer than Charlize Theron" because, lets be honest, "fairer" or not, she still looks like Kristen Stewart. I also will stand up for the fact that, regardless of her involvement in the woeful Twilight Saga, she has more than proven to be a very fine actress in her own right.
Don't believe me? Just check out The Runaways and Welcome to The Rileys to see how much more there is to her than Bella Swan. For all that though, she just seems like a non-presence in the film. Whether it's because she is simply miscast or because she simply isn't given much to work with, despite being the feminist hero of the piece, I cannot say.
Worse than all this, however, is the film's biggest problem: it's really, really boring. It is, dwarves aside, entirely without humour. It has some Titanic-level creaking dialogue, its colour palette is almost entirely grey, it is entirely lacking in character, and its action scenes are dull. Worst of all, at over two hours in length, it feels extremely padded.
Overall, Snow White and The Huntsman may have its strengths – not least of which is its recasting Snow White as a tough, no-nonsense heroine – but considering its rich source material and impressive cast, it really has no excuse for being as mundane and uninvolving as it ultimately turned out to be.