The second ‘Snow White’ adaptation of 2012 hits our screens this week. With Tarsem Singh’s somewhat lighter take on the fairy tale, ‘Mirror, Mirror’ having opened to indifferent reviews (albeit with reasonable box office returns), it was open to question whether this darker version could offer audiences something better?
‘Twilight’ star Kristen Stewart takes the title role of Snow White, a young princess who is locked up by her stepmother, Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron), after the death of her father the King. The Queen is an eternally young looking woman thanks to her practise of dark magic, feeding on the youth of beautiful young women in order to sustain her power and appearance.
She is told by her magic mirror that killing Snow White is the only thing that can guarantee her success in claiming the kingdom of England forever, and hires a drunken Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to kill the princess.
When her pursuer finds Snow White she reveals the true reason why she is outcast and the Huntsman takes pity on her, taking her to safety and, with the help of some warrior dwarves they encounter, teaches her to fight and prepare her to reclaim her throne.
This is certainly a grittier take on the legend, but director Rupert Sanders (making his feature debut) makes sure to mix in enough ‘Lord of The Rings’ type fantasy to make this an interesting prospect, including magical stags and enchanted forests.
The story is interesting enough to sustain you over a two hour running time, and little touches like the very impressive techniques employed to portray veteran actors such as Ray Winstone and Bob Hoskins as dwarves make it look a lot different to what one expects.
One could almost see similarities between Sanders’ film and the Jim Henson films of the 1980s. Sadly, this isn’t the breakout film Stewart may have hoped for. While she isn’t terrible in the lead, she displays her much lampooned lack of emotion, meaning that next to her loftier co-stars she seems almost redundant.
Theron by contrast, is a force of nature, fully embracing the evil queen role and relishing every screeching speech. Hemsworth uses much of the raw machismo that made him such a hit as ‘Thor’, and lumbers around the film amiably, aided by the comedy troupe of ‘dwarves’, led by the trio of Hoskins, Winstone and ‘Deadwood’ actor Ian McShane.
On the downside, Sam Claflin seems pointless as Snow’s childhood friend, looking positively pubescent next to Hemsworth’s mountainous male lead. Despite a flawed central performance, and rather a whimpering ending, this take on Snow White is definitely more interesting than Singh’s disappointing effort.
Thanks to the charisma of Theron and Hemsworth, who show their calibre as genuine stars, cinemagoers will enjoy this version of Snow White, and their performances along with the film’s impressive techniques make for a film that’s interesting even if it isn’t perfect.
Snow White And The Huntsman is released on 30th May.