Snow White And The Huntsman review: Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron vamp it up

Posted on 1 June 2012
By Camilla McNatty
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Penned as a ‘breathtaking new vision of a legendary tale,’ Snow White and the Huntsman lives up to its tagline in style and aesthetic impression, but suffers from a slightly loose and confused narrative.

Kristen Stewart, who rebels against preconceptions from her Twi-days, plays orphaned princess Snow White and Charlize Theron excels as evil Queen Ravenna.

Chris Hemsworth also stars as the handsome, nameless Huntsman to form an all star cast in this visually striking new take on the infamous Grimms’ fairy tale.

After entrancing the widower king into marriage with her stunning beauty and long blonde hair, Ravenna quickly seals his fate by stabbing him on their wedding night and secures a vast kingdom in quick succession.

Orphaned daughter Snow White is found locked in the castle some 10 years later and with one look in the golden mirror on the wall, the Evil Queen learns that she is in fact, no longer fairest of them all.

Cue Snow White’s escape into the Dark Forest and an incensed Ravenna immediately sends drunkard, peasantary huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) in quick pursuit to retrieve her heart.

The film adopts a nature of its own within the Dark Forest and the hounding of Snow White by Ravenna’s frankly weird and probably, incestious brother Finn (Sam Spruell) is undermined by the love triangle which is thrown into effect as the film advances.

Snow White’s childhood friend, a Duke’s son (Sam Claflin) attempts to win her affection back after initially abandoning her, but wilts in comparison to the rugged and charismatic Huntsman.

The love triangle appears to be included as a preconceived essential sub-plot, but it adds nothing to the substance of the main story and falls flat.

Where the film excels is in visually stunning effects; the Dark Forest is full of beauty and magic, from trees turning into trolls and hidden communities lurking within the depths and dark shadows, director Rupert Sanders creates a truly breathtaking setting.

The stronger Gothic elements work powerfully within this atmosphere and elements like the transformation of Ravenna into a murder of crows, capture fundamental elements of Edgar Allan Poe style horror.

Colleen Atwood’s flair for creating beautiful costumes to adorn the Evil Queen with intricate jewellery and envy inducing crowns.

Theron as the Evil Queen essentially does her job, but at moments, sinks into melodrama rather than maintaining the chilling horror of her persona consistently.

Stewart similarly is dressed in a medieval take on the Disney costume of Snow White, with puffed sleeves streaked with red and looks naturally at ease when she adopts mitilaristic chainmail for the final battle scene.

Her character embodies beauty that is more than skin deep, and Stewart remains truly beautiful regardless of her tortuous situation.

The infamous dwarves from the tale are introduced later in the film, digitally manipulated versions of Ray Winstone, Eddie Marsan and Nick Frost are worth the wait. Their characters suffer from a series of awkward jokes but their star appeal saves their fleeting presence.

Stretching more than two hours, the film is unnecessarily prolonged and is elaborated with particularly disinteresting and needless narrative.

Flashbacks to the Queen’s evil beginnings add a human element to her character, undermining her real evil nature and continuous references to the Huntsman’s dead wife do nothing to build his relationship with Snow White.

The stunning setting of Pembrokeshire lends a Mordor element to the film and goes someway to making the numerous, and very violent fight scenes more watchable. A huge focus on medieval battle throughout contrasts the fairy filled sanctuary which lays within the Dark Forest and the film at times appears torn between which direction to pursue.

Whilst Snow White and the Huntsman is certainly different from Julia Roberts’ Mirror Mirror, released earlier this year, it serves its purpose as a dramatic re-imagining and its success lays in its strong cast. Unfortunately, you are left feeling that it wanted to be much more of an action film than it managed to attain.

Snow White is out now – for Liverpool One Odeon cinema times…