The huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) charged with taking Snow White (Kristen Stewart) into the woods to kill her changes sides and becomes her protector in her fight against the evil Queen (Charlize Theron)
We have already had one ‘twist’ on the Snow White story this year – Tarsem’s Mirror Mirror – yet rather than bow out of the race and not swamp the cinema market with the same story, Rupert Sanders’s Snow White and the Huntsman is another reimagining of the classic tale.
Kristen Stewart plays Snow White, the fairest of them all, but she does not go incredibly far to stretch herself as an actress. Rather like her role in Twilight, her performance as Snow White just involves her running away and looking scared while a strong, handsome man protects her. She does not do a whole lot of talking, but does get to give an ‘inspirational’ speech towards the end of the film. A speech that just involves her screaming at people about things. Not that inspiring. Stewart desperately needs to move away from the ‘damsel in distress’ character that she has been playing for several years now, but SWATH is not going to allow her to do this. Those who have been waiting for Stewart to do something different are better off waiting for On The Road, where she at least smiles.
Charlize Theron is easily the standout from this film. As the evil Queen she is incredibly shouty, but she also manages to exude malice. She is the character that the audience will find themselves drawn to – whether they sympathise with the character or not – and she is given a decent back story, even if she is not given a reason for her evil. Chris Hemsworth really just plays a sadder, drunker Thor. This is not really a bad thing, but it is not really a good thing either.
The dwarves are played by respected character actors including Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane and Nick Frost. They are not really used in the film, other than for Hoskins to proclaim that Snow White is who she says she is, and there are eight of them. Which is odd.
The story is rather different from the Snow White story we know (and from Mirror Mirror). Snow White finds an ally in the huntsman, finds friends in the fairies and defeats trolls and the like because she is so pretty. Hmmm… As well as this, the story takes a Tim-Burton’s-Alice–in–Wonderland turn and makes the heroine into a mighty warrior who fights for her kingdom, even though she has only ever had one rather short fighting lesson from the huntsman. Isn’t she supposed to be innocent? Why then is she allowed to get away with killing her enemies on the battlefield? Surely this is a betrayal of her innocence? I give up. The good news is that the film looks rather pretty, even if it does suffer from a lack of light most of the time.
In all, Snow White and the Huntsman takes a different path to Mirror Mirror, but does not end up proving itself to be much better. Stewart is a charmless and awkward leading woman and, while Charlize Theron has some great moments, she spends most of the film shouting. Fans of the story may be better off sticking to the original Grimm’s Fairy Tale, or just watching the Disney animated film… Again.