Movie Review: Snow White and the Huntsman
By Matthew Huntley
June 12, 2012
Snow White and the Huntsman is a beauteous, enchanting and thrilling fairy tale adaptation. Watching it, I was absorbed by its atmosphere and action; it reminded me of when I was a kid and all a good story needed was a hero (or in this case, a heroine); a villain; and a quest. These are the ingredients for most stories - modern and old - but the original Grimm Brothers fairy tales, including Snow White, helped pioneer the template and this latest interpretation proves a classic can still thrive when it’s done right.
The movie is traditional and straightforward in a lot of ways, as most fairy tales are, but its characters are more progressive. Snow White, in particular, is a born leader and not merely a damsel in need of rescue. In fact, there’s more to all the characters than we might have expected given the fairy tale archetypes. Director Rupert Sanders and writers Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini use the broad strokes of the original story to form their structure, but they re-envision it and the final product is crafty, exciting and, in some ways, unique.
If you’ve seen any other incarnation of Snow White (who hasn’t seen Disney’s version?), or read the original fairy tale, then you know it’s about a fair, kind and just girl in a faraway kingdom. Her name is Snow White, named by her beloved mother, Queen Eleanor (Liberty Ross), who saw how alluring the white snowfall was in the deepest of winters and sensed her child possessed the passion.
When she’s a little girl, Snow White’s mother passes away, and her grief-stricken father, King Magnus (Noah Huntley), heads out to do battle with a phantom army made of black glass. Following his victory, the king comes upon one of the army’s supposed prisoners, Ravenna (Charlize Theron), and is taken aback by her beauty. The two are arranged to be married the next day, but on their wedding night, she murders him, and we soon learn of her grand and sinister plot to assume his throne and become the most powerful woman in all the land.
With the help of dark magic, Ravenna rules the now dark and dreary kingdom but is told by her portentous “mirror, mirror on the wall” that Snow White will eventually be her undoing unless she takes the young girl’s heart. Lucky for Snow White (Kristen Stewart), fate is on her side. Brave and resourceful, she escapes from the castle tower and hides out in the dark forest, which is where the movie really starts to comes alive. The forest contains a muddy, sinking ground; dark, leafless trees with branches that turn into to snakes; slimy, slithery animals; giant trolls; and a peculiar substance that causes your skin to melt. Combined with creepy, ominous noises, the world envelops us. It must have been a production and sound designer’s dreams come true.
When the Queen’s pale, white-haired brother, Finn (Sam Spruell), fails to capture the princess, she recruits a local huntsman (Chris Hemsworth of Thor) to bring her back, promising to resurrect his dead wife. Desperate, the Huntsman accepts the Queen’s terms, but he inevitably grows fond of Snow White and the two embark on a journey toward the land of Duke Hammond (Vincent Regan) and his son William (Sam Claflin), who was Snow White’s childhood friend. She believes she can form an army and take back her family’s rightful kingdom.