Snow White And The Huntsman REVIEW

Kristen Stewart in Snow White And The Huntsman.

If only she'd eaten a banana instead.

Release Date: 30 May 2012
12A | 127 minutes
Distributor: Universal
Director: Rupert Sanders
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Bob Hoskins

The muddiest fantasy film since Monty Python And The Holy Grail, Snow White And The Huntsman is, if nothing else, a welcome antidote to Tarsem Singh’s gaudy panto, Mirror Mirror.

This is a version of the Brothers’ Grimm fairy tale with an emphasis on the grim. This is not just Snow White for the Lord Of The Rings generation with epic battles, supernatural armies and dwarves; at times it’s so dark, it almost feels like a less explicit Game Of Thrones. Charlize Theron’s evil Queen Ravena may tip over into Dynasty bitch mode occasionally, but more often she’s a frightening loathsome creation, casually ripping the beating hearts out of peasants.

There’s an earthy, elemental feel to the fantasy and effects that gives the film a refreshing edginess. Only occasionally does the CG become too artificial. While the liquid gold, humanoid mirror seems to have strayed in from Terminator 2, the subtler effects used to create a dark forest full of half-seen horrors display the film’s evocative design at its best. Likewise, the sets and costumes for the most part don’t fall into the mistake of being overdesigned. The dwarves are another highlight; played by a roster of hard-man Brit thesps, they look perfect and give the film some well-timed comic relief.

Sadly, despite getting so much right, Huntsman also fails in key areas. Kristen Stewart is pretty much a vacuum at the heart of the movie; this is bearable until she’s required to go into motivational-Buffy mode at the end. Her Henry V moment sounds like a teen having a strop.

Chris Hemsworth’s huntsman is clearly supposed to be the Han Solo of this tale. Unfortunately his cod-Gaelic accent is near unfathomable, and he’s not given enough decent lines to convince as “the loveable rogue”.

For the first hour the plot lurches from scene to scene in a calculated, emotionless way. It’s not until the Dwarves arrive that the film discovers some heart and starts to engage your emotions as well as your aesthetic sensibilities. The final battle, although spectacular, falls at the final hurdle with a disappointingly cursory conclusion.

Snow White And The Huntsman is worth watching for the breathless moments when it captures the magic completely on screen. But while its heart may be in the right place, it doesn’t beat with much passion.

Dave Golder

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