I have no idea how many incarnations of the fairy tale featuring Snow White there are in literature, television, and film. Some are modern takes of the old story, some offer an old setting for the old tale, and some like ABC’s Once Upon a Time serve up an intriguing combination of both. Snow White and the Huntsman is definitely an expanded adaptation of the old medieval tale.
This version may be the darkest portrayal yet. There is nothing cute or cuddly here. It is dark and brooding with very little comic relief. The filmmakers take the familiar characters and events of other beloved versions and fleshes those characters and events out. Evil Queen, the dwarfs, and the huntsman are much, much more than animated caricatures. These characters in particular are given soul and depth.
Charlize Theron really played Ravenna the Evil Queen to the hilt, her taunt face flashing back and forth from a stunning beauty to an aging crone as she sucks the youth and vitality out of the people that stumble into her path and her dark soul blackens the landscape. There is no humor in Theron’s Ravenna, only dark, selfish evil and she makes you believe. Chris Hemsworth (Thor and The Avengers) is subtly scarred and haunted as the Huntsman and further advances his hero persona. I have a feeling we will be seeing Hemsworth more and more in the future.
Ironically, the biggest void in the film was from the title character and our leading lady, Snow White. Kristen Stewart was her normal morose heroine that she has perfected as Bella. She seems to be stuck in that brooding, unsmiling, dolorous rut and I have seen little from her that tells me she can play anything else. Only toward the end, when she donned the shiny armor, did she breathe much life into the all important role of Snow White. If all director Rupert Sanders was shooting for was a dark, lifeless version of the lead character, then his casting choice of Stewart was perfect. She certainly fit into the mood of the film well enough. I just didn’t see any depth there.
All in all, though, I enjoyed this haunting adaptation. Most of the characters were much more realistic and fleshed out than past versions. My whole family liked the film and it was appropriate for most audiences over ten years old. There were some dark and disturbing scenes that might upset more sensitive younger viewers but there was little graphic violence. The movie as a whole was pretty good, with only a slight downgrade for Snow herself.
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