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Snow White & The Huntsman - Review

Snow White & The Huntsman

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

THE second Snow White movie of the year, following the high camp of Tarsem Singh’s Mirror Mirror, offers a sombre, gritty and revisionist take on the classic Grimm fairytale that’s only partially successful.

First-time director Rupert Sanders invests Snow White & The Huntsman with a keen visual sense and some wonderfully dark imagery but struggles to juggle all of the film’s many elements in completely satisfying fashion.

In this version, Snow White (Twilight’s Kristen Stewart) starts out as the captive princess of the wicked queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron), who has slain her father on the way to taking control of the throne by supernatural means.

Once she escapes into the dark forest, however, she finds herself pursued by a grieving Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) and the queen’s evil brother, Finn (Sam Spruell), before hooking up with a band of dwarves (a who’s who of talent including Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Eddie Marsan and Toby Jones) to mount an uprising of sorts.

Sanders film remains sure to maintain the integrity of the Brothers’ Grimm source material but is also content to borrow from other sources, whether it’s the films of Terry Gilliam, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy or even Joan of Arc.
As a result, it often feels derivative and trying too hard to please one too many demographics.

The sheer volume of characters also inhibits the smooth flow of proceedings and makes for some curious creative choices. Not content with one potential love interest for Snow, for example, Sanders offers two: Hemsworth’s rough and rugged Huntsman (complete with dodgy Scottish accent) and Sam Claflin’s bow and arrow wielding dashing prince. But while the former is charismatic enough, the latter places a strain on proceedings.

The dwarves, too, are under-used despite the star-studded nature of their ensemble, while intriguing sub-plots involving several other characters, such as Spruell’s Finn and his enigmatic tracker Aldan (Joey Ansah), never feel properly developed.

Stewart’s Snow White, meanwhile, is a little too sullen and bland for her own good and a clear attempt to court the Twilight market, although – to be fair – her performance fits in with the dark tone, which sometimes takes itself way too seriously.

That said, the film does benefit from a standout performance from Theron, as the evil queen Ravenna, as well as Sanders’ obvious eye for style. Visually, it often compensates for the shortcomings in plot and characterisation.

The director also manages to deliver interesting variations on the story’s more popular elements, such as the delivery of the fated apple and the use of the mirror, mirror device, while also making the CGI component work over-time (and very well) in key sequences involving a fierce, yet mis-understood troll, some of the forest’s darker, more hallucogenic elements and a dream-like sequence involving Snow’s bonding with nature.

Far from being a rotten apple that leaves fans of Walt Disney or the Brothers Grimm feeling grumpy, this version of Snow White is flawed but still entertaining, even if it won’t leave you feeling entirely happy either.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 127mins
UK Release Date: May 30, 2012