Snow White and the Huntsman
Director: Rupert Sanders
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron
If one thinks originality is dead, then the fact that there are two horrible live action remakes of Snow White in one year is like a group of hoodlums kicking over its tombstone.
While Mirror Mirror was a family channel version of the classic tale, Snow White and the Huntsman is a semi-darker version of the story of Snow White. It’s semi-darker because the original tale by Brothers Grimm involved the evil stepmother having to dance in a pair of heated iron shoes at the end of the tale. Chances are that version of the tale will never be put to film.
The odd thing about Snow White and the Huntsman is how much it shares with Mirror Mirror in its adaptation— the evil Queen, Ravenna (Charlize Theron), is a powerful witch whose use of magic accelerates her aging. Snow White (Kristin Stewart) is a warrior princess who learns skills to lead a resistance against the Queen, and the dwarves are a group of thieves and warriors who are struggling to reclaim some kind of lost glory.
The performances are mostly lackluster, but provide many moments of unintended comedy. If Stewart could stick to one accent and have multiple facial expressions, then her performance as Snow White might have been tolerable. Theron shouts many of her lines in a comically melodramatic manner. The Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) is the most interesting character of the film, but his father-lover relationship with Snow White is creepy, and adds little value to the film.
Despite the poor acting, Snow White and the Huntsman raises a whole bunch of interesting concepts that are barely developed but could have made for a compelling story—there’s a group of women who scar themselves so that Ravenna will not come after them and a Tolkienequse struggle between nature and magic.
Quite a bit of time is spent lamenting the role of women in society, but as the film isn’t set in a Game of Thrones fantasy world, there’s not much to give these lamentations authority. The film follows about 30 seconds of Ravenna’s backstory, which could have constructed a thought-provoking circular narrative where Snow White will follow in her step mother’s footsteps.
Even Ravenna’s brother (Sam Spruell) could have provided an interesting angle in how traumatized a person can get from a haircut. All of these ideas are momentarily touched on, but nothing is done with them.
It would have been interesting to see a postmodernist retelling of this children’s story. Unfortunately, that would require some degree of original thought, which is not going to happen with Sanders, who steals much of his film’s aesthetic from Tim Burton’s recent retelling of The Chronicles of Narnia—also known as the live action Alice in Wonderland.
Somewhere in the back recesses of someone’s mind, there is a compelling re-imagined version of children’s fairy tales that provides a deeper insight into these tales. Save for the unintended comedic value of Snow White and the Huntsman, the only redeeming quality of this film is the Florence + the Machine song that plays over the end credits.