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Snow White and the Huntsman

June 30, 2012
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I will freely admit that this film wasn’t on my must-see list but Eve wanted to see it and I’m always keen to keep the Pax Romantica.

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This is the second Snow White adaptation at this year, the first being Mirror, Mirror. Hopefully, there won’t be too many more to follow. In contrast to the former, this is far more darker in its tone. That doesn’t mean better.

The film opens with the Evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) seducing and murdering the king, Snow White’s (Kristen Stewart) father, and taking control. Nature responds by promptly dying. Fast-forward ten years or so and the Evil Queen learns that eternal youth can be hers if she consumes Snow White’s heart, since she is (or has potential to be) the fairest of them all. The flipside is that Snow White is the only one who can kill her. Don’t you just love those double-edged prophecies? At this point, Snow White makes her timely escape into the Dark Forest. In order to track her down, the Queen’s men enlist the services of the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), a drunkard with a heavy past. When they find Snow White, he switches sides and escapes with Snow White. The rest of the film details their journey to Duke Hammond’s castle and the revolt against the Evil Queen. Just as you’d expect, there’s dwarves, poison apples and of course, happy ever afters.

I applaud the film for experimenting, for trying to play with a well-known story. However, it doesn’t try too hard to escape the realm of tropes and stereotypes. At the same time, it takes itself far too seriously. The result is a rather stale and humorless film that felt far longer than it was. that said, the film has a real nice thematic design to it. The Evil Queen’s lands and the Dark Forest were mercilessly grim while Nature’s Sanctuary and the creatures there brimmed with life and imagination.

The film wasn’t helped by what I felt was so-so acting. Chris Hemsworth does a robust job – though I may not be the best person to rate that since I have something of a man-crush on the most beautiful man in the world. Kristen Stewart gave a frankly underwhelming performance but I want to put this down to the lines she was given. I have seen (and never will) anything of the Twilight series but I can’t shake the feeling that she may have some potential. The dwarves were played by some fairly big name actors such as Bob Hoskins, Toby Jones, Ray Winstone and Nick Frost but they were perfunctory at best. Meanwhile, Charlize Theron ran hot and cold as the Evil Queen. While she was deliciously evil and icy most of the time, she would occasionally start screaming at her underlings, seemingly for emphasis. Instead, she came across as just histrionic. You can be evil, but there’s no need to be a bitch as well.

I expect this film is aimed at the teenage girl market, especially those fond of their noir/young adult fiction, so maybe I’m not meant to get it. However, I struggle to think of anyone who could be satisfied with the tepid romance that didn’t quite happen. This film tries to be ‘Snow White but darker’ – and to some degree, it succeeds – but it fails to achieve anything more than that. Though not quite a turkey, there is nothing in this film that drives me to recommend it to anyone.

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