Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
Dir: Rupert Sanders
Snow White: Troll Whisperer…
Obviously based upon the classic Grimm brothers fairytale, with much of the darker thematic elements re-inserted, this film sees Kristen Stewart as Snow White, pitted against her evil stepmother Ravenna (Charlize Theron) who is determined to hold on to her immortal youth by following the advice of her magic mirror. When Snow White flees into the forest, a skilled huntsman (Chris Hemsworth… yup Thor) is hired to lead Ravenna’s forces to her. However tables are turned thanks to the help of a posse of Dwarfs (including Nick Frost, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Eddie Marsan, and Toby Jones).
I’m far from being a fan of K-Stew, I find her really bland, and I couldn’t really care much less about what she did or didn’t do with the director Rupert Sanders. There’s not a lot that can spice her up, though she looks very Queen Elizabeth 1st in her armour, which is a good source to draw from. It’s easy to see why she was cast, her skin is very pale (and not due to her being a vampire this time) and she has a look that some may find attractive… I can’t help but wonder if there might have been a better actress, but to be fair she does fine as the story is quite exciting around her even if she’s consistently dull.
Chris Hemsworth however is much better, his charisma must be part of the reason there are rumours that a proposed sequel will be focused on his character (the other reasons are unrelated to filmic causes). In this he sports a Scottish accent, but we can forgive him that, as the man who plays Thor so very well is clearly suited to a role as a huntsman who is strong and skilled in the woods, it’s no stretch of the imagination.
Though the film has both SW and the Huntsman in the title, stealing every scene she’s in is Charlize Theron. Putting such an experienced and versatile actress on screen against Stewart makes her shine even more as the truly dark and wicked stepmother, Ravenna. The name has been capitalised upon nicely, playing on multiple links to Ravens, including wearing jewelery that looks like claws, and a scene in which she transforms into a flock of them and later reforms from a puddle of black goo and melted feathers. Theron is incredibly youthfully attractive for the most part of the story, and then looks more like Joanna Lumley when she ages. It’s a more subtle change than the classic Disney animation in this respect, and really quickly leaves that film as a distant childhood memory as Ravenna establishes her character as suited to a for more mature audience.
What struck me was how brilliantly fantastical this all is, with a beautifully computer generated mirror that is much more than a creepy face, trolls that are not in the slightest bit cuddly, and of course dark and evil Ravenna. All this and more totally takes the story into the highest levels of fantasy and beyond child-friendly Disney animations. This film aims to get closer to the dark tone of the Grimm fairytale, but still not quite dark enough to match it possibly because that would require it to likely be a whole rating higher and thus lose the ‘Twi-hard’ teen audience that it capitalised upon. In doing so however, it loses a little of the heart and charm that we associate with the fairytale, as new tough Snow White is more a leader of troops into battle and Dwarves who aren’t against killing, rather than the “high-ho” and dishwashing characters that might first pop to mind.
It’s a shame that the focus was so scandalously on the cast and crews personal lives when this was released, as the film is a really very good fantasy, and a very promising feature-film debut by the philandering director. Hopefully if he does direct the sequel it will not spoil those good beginnings, and instead capitalise on the well-imagined fantasy world and make the most of the (unlikely to catch his eye) Huntsman.