Snow White and the Huntsman

Directed By: Rupert Sanders

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, and Ian McShane

Finally! Something has come along to erase the memory of Julia Roberts’ lackluster Snow White tale Mirror, Mirror from earlier this year.  If we had to ask the mirror on the wall which was the fairest film of all based on Snow White, The Huntsman would win by a landslide.  With sweeping cinematography, interesting characters, and a hefty dose of fight sequences, Snow White and the Huntsman presents a fresh new take on the age old tale.

Snow White (Raffey Cassidy) is the young daughter of a benevolent king and queen.  Snow’s family rules in peace and prosperity.  However, tragedy strikes and the queen falls ill and dies.  Both Snow White and her father, the king, are left in despair.  Enter Ravenna (Charlize Theron), a mysterious woman, who uses sorcery, wits, and her beauty to trick the king into marriage.  On their wedding night, Ravenna kills the king, takes over the kingdom and locks Snow White away in a tower prison for years.

Ravenna is able to retain her power over the kingdom through sorcery.  More specifically, she sucks the souls out of young women, eats bird hearts, and has a pretty intense bath regimen.  (Her powers are reminiscent of Michelle Pfeiffer’s witch in Stardust).  Unfortunately for the kingdom, her sorcery is destructive and obliterates all of the natural beauty of the land.  After years under Ravenna’s rule, the once beautiful kingdom turns into a desolate wasteland, filled with dead trees and downtrodden, starving peasants.

As Snow White comes of age, however, she is a threat to the Queen. Ravenna’s mirror tells her that while she is the fairest of them all, an adult Snow White (Kristen Stewart) can dethrone her.  The mirror informs her that if she consumes Snow White’s heart, she will retain her power and beauty forever and be immortal.  The queen sends her minion to bring Snow to her, but Snow fights back and is able to escape the castle.  She flees to the dark forest, where no man travels safely. The Queen then blackmails a drunken Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) into hunting Snow White in the dark forest to return her to the Queen.  However, when the Huntsman and Snow White meet, he cannot just turn over the innocent to certain death.  The rest of the film follows the Queen’s efforts to capture Snow White, as well Snow’s quest to gather an army to overthrow the evil Ravenna.

I found Snow White and the Huntsman to be quite enjoyable, primarily because it was nice to see strong female leads in a summer movie season packed with testosterone.  While I am not a huge Charlize Theron fan, she creates an interesting character with the Queen.  Ravenna is not evil just to be evil. We are able to get glimpses of her past that provide insight into her quest for power.  The Queen was raised in poverty.  She has been used and abused by men in the past but she has figured out a way to usurp male power and rule without a king by her side.  She will do anything and everything to retain her power.  The Queen epitomizes the idea that absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Theron adeptly portrays the evil, the desperation, the fury and borderline madness of Ravenna.  My only complaint with Ravenna is that I would have enjoyed seeing more of her history because I think her back story is intriguing.

Kristen Stewart is also a surprisingly decent Snow White.  In prior films, Stewart has not demonstrated much of an emotional range to say the least, but she was better than I expected here.  She still wasn’t as believable in the role of beautiful princess warrior as Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games) would have been, but she did a fair job. Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman reminds me of a young Brad Pitt.  Aside from his ridiculous good looks, he has a sparkle in his eye and a swagger that just suggests that he has “it.”  Add in dwarves that include the likes of Bob Hoskins and Nick Frost and jaw-dropping special effects, and you’ve got a summer movie!

Snow White and the Huntsman is not without its flaws.  Movie aficionados may find that many elements of the film are a little too reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Specifically, there is an evil leader hell bent on obtaining absolute power; there is a quest with a variety of players guarding the prize (in this instance Snow White); the Huntsman is analogous to the Ranger; there is a comrade who has skills with a bow and arrow like Legolas; there are dwarves filling the role of the hobbits; there are castles and battles; trolls, etc.  But if you’re going to borrow elements, you might as well borrow from the best.

All in all, Snow White and the Huntsman is a new twist on a tale that we all know.  Knock back a Bacardi Breezer, suspend your disbelief and enjoy this magical fairytale.