127 min., dir. by Rupert Sanders, with Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, and Charlize Theron
Artistic license is a great thing. New takes on old classics can be refreshing and entertaining. That said, the changes made to this version of Snow White are devoid of reason. Bringing warfare and a love triangle to this fairytale, Snow White and the Huntsman is quite pointless, and it’s a long and arduous journey getting to the end of this unsatisfying tale.
Snow White has been transformed from a story about the pitfalls of jealousy and the nature of being vain into a revenge flick. While the evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) still wants to be the fairest of them all, her real goal is immortality and keeping her magical powers. Besides making a fully fledged, main player of the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), the film provides the Queen with a back story. I don’t need to know why she’s an insufferable bitch; the mystery alone is more powerful than a flashback that technically should make me feel a little bad for her. Why give an audience the chance to justify her madness?
Among the list of creative liberties taken with the story of Snow White, the Huntsman helps Snow White (Kristen Stewart) escape instead of just cutting her loose, the Queen has a twisted (possibly incestuous) albino brother, there are eight dwarfs, and a whole slew of other kinks and adjustments. In this heavy overhaul, where even the dwarfs have proper names (like Gus), why couldn’t they give other characters’ names? The Huntsman and the Queen both have lifelong woes of misfortune and loss that are meant to beef up their characters, so why not give the Huntsman a name?
Everything in the film seems geared toward making it safe for Snow White to wear armor and swing a sword, and in doing so, too many tiny details slipped through the cracks. It’s imperative that Snow White (near the end) has every man understand that they must set off and attack the Queen, immediately — yet someone had time to corn-row the sides of her hair before they rode out. Little things add up, if you let enough of them slide, they’ll all pile up, blocking the view.
The only good thing about this movie are the dwarfs. Look at the knockout lineup playing these time-bandit ruffians: Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, Ray Winston, Nick Frost, Toby Jones, Eddie Marsan, and Johnny Harris. The extra dwarf, Gus, is played by the younger Brian Gleeson, but if you look quickly, he looks a little like John C. Reilly, adding to the greatness of this ragtag group of masters. The movie progresses slower than a fart fighting its way out of a snake’s digestive system, so by the time the dwarfs show up, you practically forget they are part of the story.
When you alter such a well-known story, those modifications should make the moral more powerful, or more pertinent. Instead, Snow White and the Huntsman changes things because someone thought it would be cool. This film is nothing more than a few interesting visuals and Charlize Theron giving a masterclass on the art of extreme overacting — and it never seems to end.