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Jun 1, 2012
08:23 AMTalk about Arts
Movie Review: Snow White and the Huntsman
Films opening this weekend:
For Greater Glory - Elmwood, Transit, Galleria, Quaker Regals
Headhunters - North Park Dipson
Snow White and the Huntsman - Maple Ridge; Market Arcade, Flix Dipsons; Elmwood, Transit, Galleria, Quaker, Hollywood Regals; Transit Drive-In
What happens when a fairy tale depicting an innocent princess saved by a litany of characters on her way to the crown turns into an epic battle with the heroine in full armor storming the castle herself? Well, we discover just how flimsy a character Snow White actually is.
A prisoner for years while an evil queen brought darkness upon her kingdom, the young girl's escape into the hallucinogenic Dark Forest proves nothing but a sense of survival. She has no skills at war, has never led an army, and possesses no power to rule besides the memory of a compassionate king before her. What did she ever do to deserve such praise?
Here lies the trouble with Evan Daugherty's version of the timeless fairytale Snow White and the Huntsman. We're supposed to gaze upon the beautiful princess (Kristen Stewart) with inspiration and hope for the downtrodden and enslaved peasants of a kingdom long past its glory days. But when taught how to slay a charging enemy, she brushes it off, saying she wouldn't have it in her. There goes the warrior Snow White the trailers said we'd find.
Promising not to be a 'fairy tale', the film retains all the heightened clichés inherent in one and makes all attempts at seriousness comical. The fantastical environment surrounding these dirty, grizzled fighters is so jarring a contrast that their juxtaposition only elicits giggles while the heavy-handed lore mixes with contemporary grit like oil and water. First-time feature film director Rupert Sanders has style and this is a visually gorgeous work soaked in the horror Disney stripped from the Grimms' original, but the story crumbles under the intrinsic over-the-top romanticism at its core.
A maleficent sorceress, Ravenna (Charlize Theron with a football coach's mentality of incessant screaming to instill fear) has grabbed hold of her mother's mystical ways and kept a false beauty alive to deceive men too weak to see past their desires for the flesh. With devoted brother Finn (Sam Spruell) by her side, she takes the castle and imprisons the one girl fate says can be her undoing. It's Ravenna's hubris, however, that eventually allows the girl's escape once discovering Snow White's beauty had surpassed her own via the magical mirror seen only by her warped mind.
Knowing the princess's youthful heart would give her immortality, the queen sends Finn on a mission of retrieval. Double-crossings occur as men change sides—Chris Hemsworth's Huntsman and Snow White's childhood love William (Sam Claflin) get swept into the fray—and the fight sprawls beyond the castle's walls into the mystical Sanctuary long since repressed by Ravenna's evil. Here the once proud race of dwarves is introduced as a ragtag bunch of misfits splendidly played by Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, Johnny Harris, and Brian Gleeson.
Making Snow White a soldier was an ill-conceived maneuver. Her character is bland and uninteresting in comparison to the dwarves and reluctant heroes surrounding. She is but a device to instill ideas of true love and overcoming adversity; don't pretend she's more unless you write her as such.
There is at least a wealth of stunning imagery attempting to help us forgive the story's shortcomings. But aesthetic appeal only goes so far when you can't invest in the plot propelling it forward. The film is stuck between two worlds without ever giving audiences enough to care either way.
Snow White and the Huntsman 5/10 | ★ ★
 The Huntsman (CHRIS HEMSWORTH) and Snow White (KRISTEN STEWART) in the epic action-adventure "Snow White and the Huntsman", the breathtaking new vision of the legendary tale from the producer of "Alice in Wonderland". Photo Credit: Alex Bailey Copyright: © 2012 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
 The Queen (CHARLIZE THERON) consults with the Mirror Man in the epic action-adventure "Snow White and the Huntsman", the breathtaking new vision of the legendary tale from the producer of "Alice in Wonderland". Photo Credit: The Mill/Universal Pictures. Copyright: © 2012 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.