Snow White and the Huntsman
Release Date: June 1, 2012
Director: Rupert Sanders
Writers: Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini
Stars: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Watching Snow White and the Huntsman is a bit like going on a date with a very attractive member of the opposite sex, only to realize that this person you were so taken with is actually shallow and boring.
It is a beautiful film. If it was a music video, it would be amazing. There is a distinct visual style to the film and a collection of really great visual effects. When Ravenna (Charlize Theron) transforms into a flock of ravens, it is a great effect to behold. Likewise, the dwarves in the film, who are all actors of average height who have been morphed into little people though special effects, look amazing. I’m not sure how the film pulled off such a distinct and effective visual, but it really worked and it allowed them to use some great actors in the role, like Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone and Nick Frost. (Which is not to say that accomplished actors like Peter Dinklage or Warwick Davis couldn’t have played the roles.)
The problem is that, as beautiful as the film is, it has no substance. Narratively, it is a complete mess. The entire story feels unoriginal and disjointed, as if the writers simply ripped off their favorite scenes from a variety of different films. A large-scale battle sequence here, a symbolic, well-lit stag there and, for good measure, a battle with an ogre. None of it really makes any sense and it always feels more like a collection of random sequences than an actual movie with any sort of flow to it.
The story, as best I can determine is that Snow White (Kristen Stewart) has been locked away in a dungeon by her wicked stepmother Ravenna ever since the death of her father. Snow White stages and escape and runs off into the Dark Forrest, which, as the name suggests, is not a pleasant place. Ravenna has an entire kingdom at her disposal, but she elects to send one man to lead a small search party to bring Snow White back, so that she can eat the girl’s heart and unlock the secrets of eternal youth. (Yes, I’m serious.) The man she sends it the titular Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), a tortured soul still reeling from the untimely death of his wife. Of course, he turns out to be a poor choice for a lead tracker since, upon first meeting Snow White, he immediately sympathizes with her and decides to join her side against the queen. Hijinks and dwarf alliances ensue.
From there, the story plods along, throwing as many different locations and random encounters as it can in order to distract you from the fact that none of it really makes any sense. It all builds up to the inevitable final showdown, which is as underwhelming and nonsensical as you’d expect from a movie so sloppily written. By the end, I just found myself rooting for either side to win and win quickly so that I could just go home.
For what it’s worth, both Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth are quite good. Theron seems to really enjoy playing Ravenna and makes her suitably evil without ever seeming too cartoonish or over the top. And Hemsworth gives a strong, brooding performance as The Huntsman. Kristen Stewart is much more problematic in her role as Snow White. She seems much too awkward and fidgety to be the great beauty that is poised to usurp Ravenna, who seems much more effortlessly elegant and stunning thanks to Theron. And while the film goes on a great length about how special and powerful Snow White is, Stewart never really shows the audience anything to back up the other characters’ claims. Even as she leads a force into battle, she still seems much too passive and aloof to be a convincing hero.
In a way, Stewart ends up being a perfect representation of the film itself. She is an attractive girl, but the more time you spend with her, the more underwhelmed you are with her performance and the less convinced you are of the other characters’ claims that Snow White is this amazing savior of the realm. The same goes for Snow White and the Huntsman – at first it seems like such a beautiful film, but it quickly becomes apparent that there’s no depth or nuance to the film and all you are ultimately left with is something pretty, yet empty.
Written by Joel Murphy. If you enjoy his reviews, he also writes a weekly pop culture column called Murphy’s Law, which you can find here. You can contact Joel at email@example.com.