Review: Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)

Directed by: Rupert Sanders | 127 minutes | action, drama, adventure, fantasy | Actors: Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Ian McShane, Nick Frost, Toby Jones, Ray Winstone, Lily Cole, Bob Hoskins, Eddie Marsan, Vincent Regan, Dave Legeno, Rachael Stirling, Johnny Harris

True beauty comes from within, but the eye also wants something. That’s a lesson that director Rupert Sanders seems to have taken to heart. Whatever there is to argue about ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’, it is a beautifully designed film. The sets and costumes are beautiful and with the exception of a few minor computer-generated misses, the special effects look spectacular. That is also allowed, because the debuting Sanders received a budget of 170 million dollars to play with.

In contrast to ‘Mirror Mirror’, released earlier this year – released in the Netherlands under the title ‘Snow White’ – Sanders has stripped his fairy tale of all gloss and is aiming his arrows at a somewhat older audience. This results in a grim film with combative women, clattering weapons and a touch of horror. In ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ we see how King Magnus loses his heart to the beautiful sorceress Ravenna (Charlize Theron). Once love is sealed, Ravenna kills her husband, installs herself on the throne and rules the realm with a heavy hand. Beauty is magic and magic is power, the well-preserved queen knows, so rivals like stepdaughter Snow White (Kristen Stewart) are forced to leave. When Snow White flees into the woods, Ravenna sends a hunter (Chris Hemsworth) after her to find her, but the girl soon falls under her spell and helps her reclaim her empire.

Although Snow White is the main character of the film, it is mainly the evil stepmother who draws attention to herself. Ravenna is somewhat reminiscent of Theron’s equally violent character in ‘Monster’; Like serial killer Aileen Wuornos, she is a damaged, bitter woman who fights off with the fierceness of a wounded animal. A woman who derives her raison d’être from her beauty will maintain the facade by any means necessary. Theron’s capable portrayal exposes the tragic misconception behind Ravenna’s tyrannical rule, and that gives the film just that little bit more weight. Next to her layered stepmother, the title heroine looks a bit pale. Kristen Stewart has mastered the role of damsel in distress after four years of ‘Twilight’, but once she swaps her princess dress for sheet metal, she proves too delicate for her role, culminating in one of the least rousing battle speeches of all time.

There are more blemishes on the blazon of ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’. The film is too long and unbalanced in structure, with a few sweet scenes that take the momentum out of the story. Some adjustments are a matter of taste. For example, lovers of epic fairytale romances will be disappointed to discover that Snow White is too busy to date. The suggested love triangle between Snow White, her childhood friend William (Sam Claflin) and the hunter therefore hangs in the air, at least until the financing for a possible sequel film is round. Other moviegoers will find the lack of obligatory love scenes refreshing. There is, however, a scene in which Snow White is kissed awake, albeit in an alternative version. The swoons among us won’t get excited about it, but we found this twist so beautiful and appropriate that we add half a star to the rating.

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