Snow White & the Huntsman Review by Stu

Snow White and the Huntsmen by first time director Rupert Sanders is an ambitious and visually pleasing film which ultimately isn’t compelling or satisfying. Although roughly based upon the timeless classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the film attempts to put a darker edge on the traditional tale by adding violence and disturbing imagery. Whilst this does in fact work in favour of the film, it is far outweighed by other issues.

Fairy tales are very simple stories to tell. They usually consist of an evil king or queen who rules over a land until our hero defies the odds to defeat them in an epic duel. Whenever story tellers stray too far from this tried and tested formula the results can vary. In this case, the film was bogged down by needless tracking shots and paper thin characters. Snow White is played by Kristen Stewart who proves yet again that she strains to truly emote on screen, which begs the question, how does she keep getting these big projects? Charlize Theron does an admirable job as the evil queen although she was exposed as having a fairly limited range. The saving grace of the film is Chris Hemsworth as the huntsman. Whilst it’s basically a reprisal of his Thor character, he at least brings some humour and charm to the film.

The biggest, ugliest and most unforgivable sin of the film is the criminal under-use of some of the greatest British character actors, who play the dwarves. The line-up includes Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Tony Jones, Johnny Harris and Brian Gleeson. The design of their costumes was passable but at no stage did the script or direction take advantage of the individual nature of each dwarf, which was a crying shame. I personally would have loved to see a film based solely on the dwarfs with Snow White as a background character, in the vein of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead.

Rupert Sanders shows some discipline as a director but in this offering has revealed how green he is as story teller. The use of practical and computer-generated effects give the film a great atmosphere, but sadly this wasn’t matched by its narrative value. I would like to see Sanders tell a story with more personal meaningfulness to really get a sense of who is as director. This film felt largely lacking in substance in that regard.

Snow White and the Huntsman is not a terrible film. It has its issues, like many blockbusters do. At no stage does the film have a truly epic feel or manage to present a fully realised world. Hollywood studios need to realise that these stories are cherished by film lovers and they need to show more respect for the subject matter. I think I will stick to the animated classic when I want to revisit my favourite whistling workers and their charming companion.


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