Kristen Stewart plays the iconic Snow White, but she's mostly dirty and
grimy that we don't get that she's the fairest one of them all. There
are scenes that show how men and even monsters think she's lovely, but
we just have to accept that she is. Stewart is probably best known for
her role as Bella Swan in the Twilight movies, and in one moment, I was reminded of Breaking Dawn, Part 1,
but a criticism is that Bella Swan isn't a heroine. She's a damsel in
distress who's always in need of rescue. This movie presented the
opportunity to change that image.
Snow White and the Huntsman is the second film this year to tell the story of Snow White, after Tarsem Singh's Mirror Mirror, and it's actually the third property to do so, after the ABC series Once Upon a Time. Even though this film is set up to be a dark, gritty action-adventure, it's the least in its making of a heroine, a girl who fights and saves other people.
This movie ends with Snow White leading an army into a castle with tons of men battling with swords, shields and arrows. Yet, Snow White doesn't do much. She does give a rousing speech or at least a speech that's supposed to be rousing. I think Stewart is or at least can be a good actress, but I wasn't that roused. She's meant to be a princess-turned-general but that character arc is less than that of Princess Leia in Star Wars.
Stewart spends most of the time running through the forests. One forest is dark and scary and the second is bright and enchanted. While she is running, director Rupert Sanders makes it visually interesting but a lot of it is huge wastes of time. Like with Mirror Mirror, I was more fascinated with everyone else other than Snow White, the presumed protagonist.
Charlize Theron plays Ravenna, the evil queen with magical powers. Writers Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini provide one flashback that briefly explains the premise with which Ravenna operates. In a couple of scenes, Theron is able to convey the motivations and whys of Ravenna, but I would have liked more digging into this person.
Chris Hemsworth who is appearing in his third film of the year after The Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers plays the titular Huntsman. The Huntsman is a drunk widower who Ravenna tricks into finding Snow White who escaped into the dark forest, a place only the Huntsman can navigate. His presence doesn't come until a fourth or even a third of the way into the movie. Until he does show up, the film is rather disturbing, bouncing between murder and horrible treason. Hemsworth adds not only his hunkiness but also humor and a heart that the movie lacked until his role is introduced.
Unlike Mirror Mirror, the Prince here isn't as charming. Sam Claflin plays Prince William. He's like Hawkeye in that he's really good with a bow-and-arrow, but he makes no real impression otherwise. I would have appreciated an impression because there was a potential love triangle, but we don't get enough of the relationship between Snow White and William to feel much of anything. Instead of being potential lovers, they seemed like brother and sister.
I guess there was also a potential romance between Snow White and the Huntsman, though I don't feel like that angle is pushed much, if at all. Aside from needing his help to stay alive and aside from being obliged because she's the beloved princess, there really is no chemistry between the two. I wanted it to be like a Han Solo and Princess Leia situation or even a Westley and Buttercup situation from The Princess Bride (1987) but obviously darker, but it's not like either.
I'm not sure if it's a writing problem because there are tons of scenes of the two together, but either the acting or the directing wasn't making me feel any connection between Snow White and the Huntsman. The two even kiss. Yet, there is no heat, although the whole movie has a coldness overall, except when Snow White and the Huntsman encounter the seven dwarfs.
Much in the exact same way as in Mirror Mirror, the dwarfs here are the best thing about this movie. Unlike Mirror Mirror, the dwarfs here aren't actual dwarfs. A dwarf is usually any adult under five feet in stature. The actors here include Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, Bob Hoskins, Toby Jones and Eddie Marsan. The shortest among them in real life is about five-foot-five. All the rest are average. CGI and special camera angles make them seem shorter than they actually are, but even if those tricks weren't used, I wouldn't care because all of them are fantastic. They're all distinct, funny, interesting and even endearing.
Unfortunately, the dwarfs in and of themselves aren't worth the rest of the film. Mirror Mirror had other things going for it, but this film is rather empty. The action scenes aren't all that inventive or epic. Mirror Mirror didn't really have any action scenes, but the one it did have was quite inventive, incorporating a possessed puppet trying to kill the dwarfs. The filmmakers here develop these monsters that are comprised of small pieces of black glass, which aren't as clever as they might think.
Two Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action-violence and brief sensuality.
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 7 mins.