Genre: Action and Fantasy Running Time: 2 hrs. 7 min.
Release Date: June 1st, 2012 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Rupert Sanders Actors: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Sam Claflin, Sam Spruell, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Nick Frost
or a movie that so desperately wishes to be Tolkienesque, it’s a questionable choice to burden it with both the Snow White moniker and Kristen Stewart. There’s a certain stigma to the young actress, not limited to just her abilities or appearance, but more pressingly concerning the conflict between her presence and the requirements of a competent action adventure. Moments of creativity seep into the film in the form of special effects, atmospheric set designs, and macabre interpretations of the classic fairy tale, but for all the unique additions to the celebrated story, too many instances of overdramatic nonsense and liberally borrowed ideas from superior fantasy staples bury its momentum.
Though blessed by the birth of his beautiful daughter, Snow White (Kristen Stewart), King Magnus (Noah Huntley) falls into despair when his queen dies shortly after. Spying an opportunity to usurp the throne, wicked sorceress Ravenna (Charlize Theron) seduces the king and murders him. Declaring herself the new queen, she watches with gratification as Snow White languishes in a tower prison and the once lively kingdom crumbles beneath her tyrannical rule. When Ravenna’s magic mirror informs her that she can obtain immortality by killing the king’s daughter, she attempts to do just that – but Snow White escapes and hides in the treacherous realm of the Dark Forest. Once there she joins forces with eight dwarven warriors, her childhood friend William (Sam Claflin), and the very hunter sent to kill her (Chris Hemsworth) to plan an attack and reclaim the throne from the malevolent witch.
The strong approach of seriousness to the generally whimsical fairy tale is, ironically, the film’s undoing. In an overly melodramatic, guts-and-glory-infused, action-oriented manner, “Snow White and the Huntsman” tries exhaustively to be awe-inspiring, resulting in accidental humor, generic dialogue, and unconvincing chivalry. It starts with a narration by the Huntsman (awkwardly never given a formal name – odd considering the evil queen is specifically christened) that seemingly follows the original Brothers Grimm version. Ten minutes in, however, it deviates sharply into a yarn of epic battles and ghastly sorcery. This might be the only adaptation in which the magic mirror oozes from a metallic gong into a liquid-cloaked specter. And in what contrary, preposterous universe is Kristen Stewart fairer than Charlize Theron?
“Magic comes at a lofty price,” muses Finn (Sam Spruell), the queen’s brother and yet another inessential addition. The spell-casting onslaught shares the screen with sinister makeup, lavish costume designs, and complex special effects, including appointing distinguished British actors to the roles of the dwarves. That’s perhaps the only laudable aspect (and a costly gimmick); every bit of the plot struggles to imitate more substantial franchises and projects, most notably “The Lord of the Rings,” “Willow,” “Conan the Barbarian,” and “Robin Hood.” Theron is sensational for her brief introduction, but rapidly becomes deluging when she substitutes flinch-worthy vociferating for believable ferocity. Silly fantasy also briskly edges out thrills, with the worst offender being intensifying music and a rousing speech (a la “Braveheart”) by a mail-clad, sword-wielding White that triggers nervous laughter. At least the movie has an angle to it, although that particular slant was similarly executed in 1997 (with the triple-Emmy-nominated TV movie “Snow White: A Tale of Terror”).
– The Massie Twins