A dark reworking of the classic fairytale, Snow White and the Huntsman sees the beautiful titular princess, played by Kristen Stewart in yet another damsel-in-distress role, go toe to toe with her evil stepmother Ravenna (Charlize Theron) who is somewhat obsessed on getting one over on the entire male species. As per the fairytale, Ravenna banishes Snow White into the woods, sending Chris Hemsworth’s beefcake huntsman after her to murder her and bring back her heart.
Instead of chopping her up though, the Huntsman comes to admire her bravery, and with the help of some seriously un-Disney dwarfs and an army led by Prince William (a wavy-haired, doe-eyed Sam Claflin) Snow White leads the charge against Ravenna’s evil rule.
Whether it’s an eerie, snow-laden forest, a lush faerie garden where Snow White discovers she is ‘life itself’, or a smouldering Hemsworth on horseback, Rupert Sanders’ SWATH is a visually stunning film. Ravenna’s gowns are a feast for the eyes and, as a seaside charge and a fight sequence at Ravenna’s castle towards the end proved, it’s clear that every dollar of the budget is up there on the screen.
But for all the film’s breathtaking landscapes and outfits, it falls short on depth. There’s a sense of something being kept back most likely to meet the film’s 12A certificate. SWATH could – and should – have been a much darker and more intense movie. While it steamrolls over the recent Mirror Mirror, we’re left with a Red Riding Hood-esque teen flick that is too scared to hit hard.
All this is before we reach the actors themselves. Charlize Theron, who usually shines in any film she’s in, hams up her role to the point that it’s cringe-worthy, while Stewart spends the majority of the movie gasping, screeching, breathing heavily, or delivering a lacklustre speech to rouse the troops. Meanwhile Avengers Assemble’s Hemsworth struggles to make the best of a weak script with an even weaker Scottish accent.
The dwarfs, amongst which are British acting gems Ray Winstone, Bob Hoskins and Toby Jones, provide some level of comic relief. However, if you want to see some dwarves on the big screen that can really kick butt, best wait until The Hobbit comes out at the end of the year.
While Snow White and the Huntsman’s target teen audience would have been unlikely to flock to the cinemas if relative or complete unknown actors had been used, it’s a risk we wish Sanders had taken.
Released in UK cinemas on Friday 1st June 2012 by Universal Pictures.
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