12 September 2012

Movie Review: Snow White and the Huntsman by Rupert Sanders

Title: Snow White and the Huntsman
Director(s): Rupert Sanders
Genre(s): Adventure, Drama, Fairy Tales, Fantasy
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: June 1, 2012

"Snow White and the Huntsman reinvents the legendary story in a film of astonishing beauty and imagination." -Chicago Sun Times

Let’s take a moment to re-imagine the classic fairy tale, Snow White, as something other than the whimsical version we all know. The story remains much the same-- A noble King and Queen give birth to a lovely daughter (Snow White). Shortly thereafter the Queen dies, and in all his grief, our King takes on a beautiful new bride. Little does the King know this will be his undoing, for his new wife, Ravenna, is an evil, man-hating sorceress. Soon the King is dead, Snow White is imprisoned and our quiet kingdom plunged into darkness and despair. With a little bit of “Mirror, mirror on the wall” action, Ravenna learns just how much her and Snow White’s fates are intertwined. Snow will bring about Ravenna’s destruction or she’ll bring her total immortality. Naturally, you can guess which option Ravenna prefers. But in this version of the tale, Snow isn’t as helpless as her Disney counterpart. She manages to escape her cell and goes on the run through the big, bad forest. Ravenna is mad, like steaming mad, so she enlists the dashing (but drunk) Huntsman to capture our much revered, Snow. During their epic journey, both the Huntsman and Snow White discover the grandeur of the destiny they’re bound to fulfill and learn just how much they need one another.

In a world full of reboots, it’s hard to keep a fresh perspective but Rupert Sanders somehow managed to pull it off in Snow White and the Huntsman. He’s turned this familiar tale into a medieval epic adventure and made our seemingly docile heroine a total warrior. He has a distinctive and original directing style and its quick-cut nature works with the story he’s decided to tell. I like what Sanders has done here and it works given the darker nature of the source material. The original Grimm story was not a happy one--it was dark and foreboding and, well, grim. I like that he wasn’t afraid to take it to a darker place and he did so without losing the magic and whimsy of Disney’s version. There are still dwarves and magic mirrors and poisoned apples and they all fit naturally in their own way. Without a doubt, this is the type of movie you want to watch in a movie theatre. But stunning as the cinematography is, the film does have its weaknesses.

I guess my main beef is the fact that the character development is somewhat lacking. We’re given interesting back-story on Ravenna and Snow and the Huntsman and not nearly enough time to take it all in. It’s enough to want to know more but not enough to satisfy. This causes the story to feel somewhat rushed and underdeveloped. It’s like we’re given the Sparknotes version of the story, not the whole thing. One of the movie’s stronger elements was the great cast. What more could you want out of a movie featuring the likes of Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth and Kristen Stewart? Okay, majority of the cast is strong—I admit, I’m not a big fan of Stewart. I feel like she plays the same wide-eyed, mumbling girl in every movie she’s in. She barely registers any kind of emotion and when she does, it’s virtually indistinguishable from any other emotion. For example, there’s a moment when she turns from a panic-stricken princess into a strong soldier, but it was laughable. No offense Kristen, but I just don’t get the cut of your jib, if you know what I’m saying.

Theron as the Queen Ravenna, on the other hand, she made that movie. Every time she came on screen, I just couldn’t tear my eyes away. Not only was she absolutely stunning, she was utterly terrifying. I feared for the lives of everyone she came into contact with. She brought evil to a whole new level and it was frightening.  

THAT is what the face of evil should look like. Then there’s Hemsworth who is certainly talented enough but his character was overshadowed by the phenomenal performances of Theron and the bumbling of Stewart. I don’t think he was given enough of a chance to shine on his own. And the chemistry between him and Stewart felt too forced, I just wasn’t buying their love story. Where the main cast was lacking in chemistry, the supporting cast certainly succeeded. With the talents of Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost and Sam Spruell it’s hard to go wrong. They own the screen and some of the movie’s better moments are thanks to them. Despite its set-backs, I think Sanders has crafted a beautiful and strong retelling of Snow White. Overall, I think the Grimm brothers would be proud.

Summary Prognosis
As Sanders’ debut film, Snow White and the Huntsman is quite strong. It’s full of action, adventure, drama with even a touch of comedy—all the things you want in a summer blockbuster. In the same vane as the original Grimm fairy tale, we see Snow White in a darker light which makes the heroine’s arc that much more powerful. Well, at least it would if you actually cared for the heroine but this was one movie where I was rooting for the villain instead. A visually impressive film, it’s one that’s worth the money despite Stewart’s relatively bland performance as Snow. 

Rating: ★★★½

Watch It: Amazon | Target 
Discuss It: IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes
View the Trailer: 


  1. This movie looks good, but what's stopped me from watching it is Stewart. Im not a fan. I can imagine Charlize Theron is great in this, she's an amazing actress. Nice post! I'll probably wait till this comes out on cable to watch it.

  2. This review is great. I meant to see this movie when it was in theaters since I love Charlize Theron, but I never got the chance. One of my Dish co-workers even told me it’s her favorite movie of this whole year. I’m adding it to my Blockbuster @ Home queue through my Dish account so I can watch it this weekend. I love being able to have DVDs sent right to my apartment! I’ll have to make sure I pick up some popcorn, too. No movie night is complete without it. :)

  3. Naida - I totally get you on the whole "not a fan of Stewart" thing, and really, that was my biggest issue with the film. However, Theron's amazing performace and the visually stunning cinematography totally makes it worth watching. I'm not sure I'd spend the money to buy it, but definitely rent it.

    Emma - Thank you! Visually, it's an amazing movie to see on the big screen but either way, I'd still watch it. I'm a big Netflix person myself, so I usually wait until DVD's are available there or on the instant-streaming before I watch them. Let me know what you think of Theron's performance--it's killer!

    1. My daughter wants to see this one, so I'll probably end up renting it sooner than later.
      And, just a note, I emailed you :) You won a copy of Things Your Dog Doesn't Want You to Know :)

  4. I like your review. I just watched this this weekend and felt it crawled! It was certainly beautiful to look at. But did you notice the first 45 had a remarkable lack of dialogue for K Stewart? just a lot of glares and grunts, which someone we found giggle-inducing... !


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