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Snow White and the Huntsman – Impressive at first, empty inside

Snow White and the Huntsman - Theater Review
Release Date: 06/01/2012 - MPAA Rating: PG-13
Clacker Rating: 3 Clacks

'Snow White and the Huntsman' has all the elements to be a great movie - but it ends up being a shiny piece of nothing.

They say beauty is only skin deep. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But then again, they say a lot of things.

If your appetite for adaptations of the classic Snow White faerie tale hasn’t been slaked by the light, fluffy Mirror, Mirror earlier this year, perhaps this shiny and empty bauble may suffice. Snow White and the Huntsman (from first time director Rupert Sanders) starts as you’d expect, with a good King (of the kingdom, that is) and Queen ruling wisely and fairly, raising pure and innocent daughter Snow White (Raffey Cassidy), who spends her days finding injured baby birds and playing with other noble child friend William. But when the Queen dies of a plot-related illness, the King is tricked into marrying evil Ravenna (Charlize Theron), although she soon kills him and takes over the kingdom with the help of her creepy brother (Sam Spruell).

And poor Snow White is locked in a tower for many years somehow until she grows up to be Kristen Stewart. In the meantime, the Queen has ruled the kingdom with terror and evil magic, draining the beauty and life from girls to stay young. But then the Queen’s Magic Mirror tells her that Snow White is so pure and fair that she could grant the Queen immortality … or doom. Snow White manages to escape, so that’s where our titular Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) comes in, hired to track her down.

But soon … he may just change his mind about this fugitive girl he knows nothing about. Without spoiling much, we run into a few dwarves (played entirely by non-little person actors, including some you may recognize like Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, and Nick Frost) led by blind “wise dwarf” Muir (Bob Hoskins) to provide mystical gibberish, and perhaps a grown up William (Sam Claflin) for the purposes of teasing a love triangle? Who could say? And Snow White must attempt to retake her kingdom and heal it with her “purity” (don’t worry, it’s just as vaguely defined in the movie).

So this is a movie that is initially quite engrossing, with evocative and intense imagery, and a bombastic musical score. And you can ignore the somewhat over-the-top acting and directorial choices and the by-the-numbers plot due to stunning visuals and dark, subtle acting successes. But then it just keeps going more over the top, eliciting laughs when there should be gasps, and poor Charlize Theron vacillates between trying to evoke pathos and crazily chewing up the scenery. Translucent lessons about love, life, the transient nature of beauty, and proto-post-feminism are shoehorned into a lackluster script.

Although there are some truly excellent actors here (Theron, Hemsworth, McShane, Hoskins), they often speak only the most cliched of aphorisms. Only occasionally does it completely work, but this movie is stuffed with faerie tale fluff. This includes a few dozen “allusions” to the seminal Disney film, but it manages to include a couple more random fantasy elements in an attempt to be “the definitive” adaptation. There are all sorts of problematic sociological elements of both the original faerie tale and Disney’s first full feature animated film, although they did speak to some universal truths on society’s focus on beauty. That much has not changed today, although the movie tries to be progressive by making Snow White slightly proactive and in control of her own destiny. Unfortunately, she’s usually saved by magic or men, rather than herself. Too bad.

But it’s certainly better than Mirror, Mirror, that other Snow White movie. Which isn’t saying much, but it’s something.

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

One Response to “Snow White and the Huntsman – Impressive at first, empty inside”

June 1, 2012 at 5:37 PM

Hilarious review–too bad about the movie, though.

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