In the year 2012 there were two different takes on the Snow White story, slightly similar to that of the year 2010 in which two films based on Greek mythology were released within a few months of each other. Tarsem Singh’s take on Snow White was light hearted and enjoyable, while Rupert Saunders’ version is a slightly darker version playing down the humour elements. Anyway, which one is better? Well, having seen both of them this is an easier question to answer so there is no need for a fight.
Snow White and the Huntsman opens up in similar fashion to Mirror Mirror with the Queen dying, leaving the King (Noah Huntley) heartbroken. The King, however, soon finds a woman (played by Charlize Theron) who has been imprisoned by the army he has just defeated on the battlefield. Unknowingly, the king has let in a greater evil inside the castle walls as the newly crowned Queen kills the King on their wedding night and takes control of the kingdom. Queen Ravenna goes about massacring the castle, but while the Duke (Vincent Regan) and his son escape, Snow White (Kristen Stewart) is left behind and imprisoned in the North tower of the castle.
Queen Revenna needs to drain the youth of the young to maintain her beauty, and Snow White’s innocent ‘farest of them all’ heart provides the answers for immortality, but her plan to munch upon Snow White’s heart is thwarted by Snow White’s escape. After a series of failures to find the girl, the Queen hires a widowed Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to find Snow White and bring her back to castle, unsurprisingly, after finding out that his dead wife will not come back from the dead the Huntsman changes sides, fighting with Snow White against the evil Queen.
It becomes somewhat depressing that the backstage affairs that took place during the filming of Snow White are more interesting than the film itself. That is the main problem really as most people will remember Snow White and the Huntsman as being the film that ended Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart’s relationship, mainly because the film is so damn forgettable that it would only be remembered for the affair between Stewart and the director. Ok, I will not mention affairs anymore, this is not a gossip blog, but it is a problem that the film was so devoid of anything noteworthy that I feel that the affair was worth mentioning.
How good are the various aspects of the film? Visuals? Good. Costume design? Good. Set Design? Good. Everything else? Bad. Rupert Saunders’ career has mainly been focused on advertising, and it shows as Saunders does have a good eye for visuals, but has very little idea how he would go about telling a story and directing his actors. The story itself is dull and uninteresting as we follow Snow White stumble though a series of adventures that never add up to a fully flowing narrative. Snow White and the Huntsman runs for about two hours, which feels far too long, and it shows as the final act seems to feel rushed.
However, matters are not helped by a series of poor performances and awful characters. Firstly, the two lead performances (Stewart and Theron) are complete polar opposites. I do not mean that one was dreadful and the other was superb as both were awful in their own way. Stewart displays no emotions, whilst Theron hams the whole thing up by either screaming or whispering. Stewart seems to wear the exact same facial expression throughout the entire film, while Theron’s screaming and shouting makes her seem like a petulant child stamping her feet when she does not get her way, it is hardly threatening. The blame for this could be laid upon Saunders as Theron is such a great actress that the decision to act as she does could not possibly be one of hers.
The supporting performances are just as bad, Chris Hemsworth seems to have adopted this wild Scottish accent, while Sam Claflin is completely nonexistent as William (though is poor character is to blame). However, the dwarfs (consisting of Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, Ian Mcshane Ray Winstone and others) come to the rescue somewhat, but it is too little too late. Shortly after the meeting the dwarfs the film goes about ripping off Princess Mononoke by directly lifting a scene from the Japanese masterpiece. There is a hint of a love triangle, but it is so badly developed that it almost isn’t even there.
The film tries to be a darker version of the Snow White tale than Mirror Mirror, but it is about as dark as twilight. The film fails to as entertaining as Mirror Mirror or any darker than Tarsem Singh’s light hearted and more enjoyable take, which says a lot as Mirror Mirror contains Armie Hammer pretending to be a puppy. Essentially, Snow White and the Huntsman is a movie stitched together with pieces taken from better fantasy movies.