Starring: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Sam Claflin, Sam Spruell, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, Johnny Harris, Brian Gleeson, Vincent Regan, Noah Huntley, Liberty Ross, Lily Cole, Rachael Stirling.
Director: Rupert Sanders
Rating: Unrated; Theatrical version rated PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and action, and brief sensuality.)
Running Time: 132 Minutes (Unrated) / 127 Minutes (PG-13)
Release Date: June 1, 2012
Home Video Release Date: September 11, 2012
North American Box Office: $155.1 Million
Roth Films and Universal Pictures.
Written by: Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock, and Hossein Amini (screenplay); Evan Daugherty (screen story); based on the fairy tale “Snow White” by The Brothers Grimm.
★★ (out of 5 stars)
Despite looking every bit the intense and brooding gothic-tinged retelling of Snow White we were promised, Rupert Sanders’ Snow White And The Huntsman is a boring, lackluster affair which wastes one potential powerhouse supporting turn from Charlize Theron, and veers into self-gratifying darkness and suffocating mood.
The second Snow White movie to arrive in 2012 following the kid-friendly and visually stylish Mirror Mirror, Snow White And The Huntsman portends a dark and dreary world where Queen Ravenna (Theron) rules her kingdom of Tabor after marrying Snow White’s father, King Magnus, and killing him on their honeymoon. To call Ravenna tyrannical is a bit of an understatement and Ravenna’s brother Finn abducts Snow White (Kristen Stewart), banishing her to the north tower of the Queen’s castle.
As Ravenna exerts her will on the people of Tabor, she also drains the youth from younger women in the Kingdom to retain her youthful appearance and vitality. When the magic mirror imparts upon the Queen the fated destiny Ravenna and Snow White will ultimately share, Ravenna makes the decision to have Snow White killed once and for all. When Finn botches his retrieval of Snow White, she escapes into the aptly named Dark Forest.
Summoning Eric the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), Ravenna agrees to reincarnate Eric’s deceased wife when he can, in turn, bring Snow White back to her. The stage is set for Eric to recover Snow White, Ravenna to honor her promise, and Tabor to continue suffering under the Queen’s rule. Naturally, things do not go as planned, Eric has a change of heart and seven mighty spirited dwarves interject themselves into events which put everyone on a collision course for the preservation of a legacy, a bloodline, and a kingdom.
And so it goes, right? Snow White And The Huntsman is instantly gratifying visually, but over the course of 132 tiresome minutes, the film labors, loses focus, and becomes as molasses-thick as the depression goop that weighs Snow White down in one sequence which transpires through the Dark Forest. Rupert Sanders never seems to know how to properly pace the film and the screenplay by Evan Daugherty, Hossein Amini, and John Lee Hancock seems at odds with itself, initially focusing heavily on Queen Ravenna and not Snow White, only to have Ravenna disappear for what feels like several hours. Just when you begin to think the film should be titled “Queen Ravenna And The Huntsman”, along comes Kristen Stewart’s Snow White. Given next to no dialogue, this Snow White is simply a character who runs around, cowers, and seems overwhelmed constantly…by everyone she encounters. When she meets Eric, the dwarves, and begins to transition from sheltered woman to strong princess, Sanders has muted her maturation so much, there is simply no believability.
Some have written that Stewart is miscast in the role and that may be a fair assessment. Watching Snow White And The Huntsman play out before me, I considered that maybe Stewart was held back or restrained from giving a stronger and more rational performance. You see glimpses where Stewart wants to push Snow White in different directions and make her a bolder, more galvanizing figure. And yet, all the emotive strength and presence is unduly weighted with Charlize Theron’s Queen. It is kind of hard to rally around someone who seems to lack that inner drive to succeed, you know?
Yes, Snow White matures and with Eric at her side, she leads a charge against the Queen. Anyone who knows the Snow White fairy tale knows where things will end up. But I am not entirely sure I understand what Rupert Sanders was trying to do with this interpretation. Stewart does not exactly click with her hunky co-star and the film is so out of balance tonally that nothing feels cohesive – not the characters, the situations they find themselves in, or the camaraderie we are forced to buy into.
A missed opportunity, Snow White And The Huntsman is a tangled mess – overthought, sprawling, and excessive. Had the film pulsed with any urgency, experienced tighter pacing, and found some actual character development, this could have worked quite well.
One saving grave is the Oscar-worthy closing song from Florence + The Machine, which plays over the end credits. “Breath Of Life” is a terrific song, amplifying the emotions of Snow White and Eric the Huntsman effectively, doing more in 4 minutes and 8 seconds than Rupert Sanders and his screenwriting team ever accomplish in 132 minutes of screen time.
SHOULD I SEE IT?
- Stewart fans and those looking for a darker, edgier Snow White tale will be drawn to see this.
- The film has a terrific look with the production design stellar and among the finest work of 2012. That only gets so far though.
- Charlize Theron is fantastic as the evil Queen Ravenna, but she can only do so much.
- Those who have turned on Kristen Stewart because of Twilight will use this as more fodder for the argument that she is overrated and not talented. I believe Stewart to be a fine actress personally, but this was not her best choice.
- Overly long and needlessly so, Snow White And The Huntsman wears on your patience, not providing enough action or scene strength to make us invest beyond a surface level at best.
- The film is just not very good with a director who seems overwhelmed by th