Hot on the heels of Mirror Mirror comes this, the second Snow White film this year and, frankly, it’s nowhere near as fun. Snow White and the Huntsman adds a fashionable dose of seriousness and darkness to the tale but story-wise, it picks all the low-hanging fruit and struggles to maintain interest throughout its two plus hour running time.
The story is not helped by the casting of Hollywood’s blandest starlet in Kristen Stewart nor in Chris Hemsworth whose main claim to fame so far is a comic book character. In Hemsworth’s defence, though, he doesn’t have much to do bar getting angry and hitting things with a hefty weapon and somehow falling in love with the heroine (I’m still not sure exactly where in the story this happened but it did… apparently). After half an hour it’s abundantly clear this is going to be a generic royal-fugitive-reclaims-her-throne story and little surprises aside from the aforesaid blossoming inexplicable amour between Twi-chick and Thor.
The one shining performance in the film is Charlize Theron whose mad, desperate, evil queen is a magnetic presence. Her history is an untold story and thereby the most interesting aspect of the film. We almost feel sorry for her wretched, cursed existence, enduring her anguish for the sake of her youthful beauty – the only weapon possessed by a woman in a world ruled by men. While Theron is on screen the film has life but without her it’s dead in the water.
Few resources may have been poured into the story but not so a production design that is splendid, particularly the sequence in the fairy forest that seems inspired by the work of Guillermo Del Toro. The whole production seems to be channelling Lord of the Rings and Excalibur and mimics the grandeur of those films but they’re wrapped around a largely soulless story so in the end it counts for little.
The seven dwarves presented here are not unlike the vagabonds in Mirror Mirror – a bunch of rough-around-the-edge outlaws with hearts of gold and wisdom beyond their stature. It’s fun to play spot-the-well-known-actor with the dwarves that include Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, Nick Frost, Toby Jones and Eddie Marsan. And it must be said that the transformation of these actors to small stature is a remarkable application of special effects technology.
But for all the action and beautiful sets, Snow White and the Huntsman is actually quite boring, and were it not for Charlize Theron we’d all be snoozing in the cinema awaiting our own loved one to revive us.