DVD Release Date: September 11, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: June 1, 2012
Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and action, and brief sensuality)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Run Time: 127 min.
Director: Rupert Sanders
Actors: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Sam Claflin, Sam Spruell, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, Johnny Harris

In this year’s second attempt to reinvent Snow White as we know it, getting the guy now plays second fiddle to being your own hero—a pretty big change for Kristen Stewart (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1) who’s now spent a good chunk of her career playing a girl with little personal ambition aside from contemplating the pros and cons of dating a dreamy but potentially dangerous vampire.

Funny enough, while the film may be titled Snow White and the Huntsman, our leading lady who doesn’t need a prince to save her thank you very much, makes little—if any—real impact.

While the dull as dishwater script is partially to blame for what’s gotta be the blandest Snow White on record (at least Mirror Mirror had some inspired screwball comedy to keep the audience entertained), perhaps, the film’s biggest crime is casting the far superior Charlize Theron (Young Adult) as the witchy antagonist.

Make no mistake, from the film’s opening frames, this movie belongs to Ravenna, the evil, beautiful stepmother with some serious self esteem issues. Not only does Ravenna get all the best lines that she delivers with a deliciously bored, slightly contemptuous gaze, but she’s so utterly captivating that she actually convinces a heartbroken widower, the king, to marry her a mere day after meeting her.

Of course, a charmed, ‘til-death-to-us-part existence isn’t really what the power-hungry Grace Kelly look-a-like had in mind. After all, since Botox has yet to be invented, her only way of staying forever young is to have complete dominion over the people. So before the ink is even dry on their marriage certificate, she murders her new husband (on their wedding night, no less) and locks his young daughter up.

With no one standing in Ravenna’s way, all is well for a while. But when the magic mirror (and trust me, it’s undergone quite a transformation from the Disney days) dares to suggest that someone might actually be prettier than her, well, her rage kicks into serious Mel Gibson territory. Ordering her creepy, compliant brother (Sam Spruell, The Hurt Locker) to bring Snow White to her (alive, naturally), the mission fails when Snow unearths a rusty nail that conveniently allows her to escape.

For whatever reason, and trust me, it gets downright laughable after a while, Snow White is always miraculously in the right place at the right time. Since running on foot for miles and miles would be a bit challenging for anyone who didn’t know the ins and outs of the ominous forest ahead, it’s still a bit much when a white horse is basically just chilling there until Snow White shows up. For a story that’s supposedly all about female empowerment, the filmmakers sure make it easy for her to succeed.

Even more embarrassing is when the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth, The Avengers) eventually shows up. Hired by Ravenna to capture Snow since her brother couldn’t finish the job, the boozy, brawny fighter acts tough for roughly 10 seconds before acquiescing to our damsel in distress.

Teaching her the tricks of the fighting trade in another 10 seconds flat, we’re then asked to believe that a young woman roughly the size of an 8th grader with nothing more than illustrious birthright is ready to lead the eventual revolt against the powerful and oh-so-crafty Ravenna?

Sadly, the leaps of logic go so far beyond the simple suspension of disbelief that our screening audience was often chuckling during several of the film’s more serious moments—never a good sign. And considering it’s a riff off a fairy tale to begin with, the ending, prince or no prince, isn’t exactly a mystery anyway.

Unfortunately like so many films these days, far more attention was paid to the aesthetic quality, rather than anything resembling quality storytelling. And while there’s no shortage of beautifully composed shots and downright stunning imagery in Snow White and the Huntsman, it ultimately rings hollow because of the anemic level of character development, a thoroughly preposterous story arc and no fun distractions to lighten the load along the way.

As for the cause of “I am woman, hear me roar”? Well, Snow White and the Huntsman may be a step up from Twilight because of Snow’s blatant refusal to pine for not one, but two tempting possible options. But if the screenwriters really wanted to sell the empowerment message, they may have wanted to give her a little more than dirty fingernails and dingy attire. Given how decidedly easy breezy her journey tended to be, I doubt any feminists will be throwing a parade in her honor any time soon.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Some social drinking depicted, plus The Huntsman drinks copious amounts of alcohol to soothe the pain of losing his wife.
  • Language/Profanity: None.
  • Sex/Nudity: After the king marries Ravenna, we see him on top of her, kissing her neck. Finn almost makes an inappropriate pass at Snow White by touching her breasts, but she escapes before things get out of hand. Ravenna emerges from a pool of thick black goo (and thick white goo in a later scene) where you can see quite a bit of her body—her breasts and lower region are strategically covered, though.
  • Violence: If you haven’t seen the trailer or countless TV spots already, be forewarned, this isn’t Walt Disney’s Snow White. Dark and violent, we see Ravenna snack on human hearts like party crudités. She also stabs her husband, the King, to death on their wedding night. There is also plenty of swordplay and several gritty battle sequences (mostly bloodless considering the PG-13 rating, but still realistic enough to scare the younger set) that result in a high body count. To stay “the fairest of them all,” Ravenna literally sucks the life out of anyone young (or at least younger than her). Several monsters in the forest also prove quite menacing, and for anyone with a fear of snakes or bugs, a couple of moments will be uncomfortable to watch.
  • Supernatural/Occult: Spells and dark magic figure prominently into the plot line, and we see their negative effects on an entire kingdom’s well-being throughout. One particularly powerful spell, nestled in a seemingly harmless apple, leads to death.

 

Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in Dallas, Texas, she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blogFor more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.