If you need your ‘Snow White’ palette cleansed after taking a bite of that poisonous apple ‘Mirror Mirror‘ earlier this year, ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ may be for you.
The first thing you need to know about ‘Snow White and the Huntman’ is that it couldn’t be further from Disney’s family-friendly telling of the classic princess fairy tale. Yes, the movie is still about a princess, but this dark, violent and frequently disturbing re-imagining isn’t fit for children. The PG-13 rating is very well earned.
What works? The actors. Kristen Stewart actually has talent, even if it’s been hiding beneath those terrible ‘Twilight’ performances. While the actress has bothered me in the recent past, she doesn’t here. Chris Hemsworth is once again great, and is given an introduction worthy of the almighty Thor. But Charlize Theron impresses the most. Rivaling Natalie Portman’s performance in ‘Black Swan‘, Theron’s Queen Ravenna is one of the most bat-shit crazy characters out there. She’s impulsive, unpredictable, heavily swayed by emotion and (not unlike Theron’s role in ‘Monster‘) she has nothing but contempt for men.
Lying partially in the “What Works” category and the “What Doesn’t Work” category is the story itself. The first half of the film impressively re-imagines ‘Snow White’ as we know it. It holds a familiar yet new feeling with a dark tone very similar to fellow fantasy epic ‘The Lord of the Rings‘. The second half, however, isn’t as great.
Prequels and remakes have the tendency to fall victim to familiarity, which can ultimately remove all tension and interest from a movie. If you know exactly what’s going to happen in a story, it loses excitement. The first half of this re-imagining is able to steer clear of that flaw, but the second half doesn’t. Once we meet the dwarfs (the brilliant casting of whom surprised me; don’t look up the cast list unless you want it spoiled), we slip into content that we already know – the whole apple and kissing shebang. Instead of playing out this way, I wish that ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ would have continued to creatively tweak this aspect. Once these things enter the story, this 127-minute movie slams on the brakes. It doesn’t come to a complete stop, but it definitely slows down and never gets back up to full speed. The climax helps better the situation, but the standard epic battle ending isn’t enough to completely rejuvenate it.
Having said that, I enjoyed ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’. Fans of ‘The Avengers’ will enjoy seeing what Chris Hemsworth can do with an axe replacing his trusty hammer. It’s a fun, (mostly) intense and thrilling ride with dark and beautiful visuals. I don’t care how much you may like the look of Tarsem Singh’s movies, this ‘Snow White’ blows his ‘Mirror Mirror’ away by a long shot.
Just remember: Do not bring your little kids!