“Snow White and the Huntsman” Movie Review

     There's no doubt after viewing "Snow White and the Huntsman" that the film far surpasses it's counterpart "Mirror Mirror" which came out just a few months ago.  That film had very little going for it and even Julia Roberts couldn't save the film from critical and financial demise.  As the trailers for "SWATH" began to surface, it became clear this version would be darker and focus on effects heavy action sequences.  Clearly, its star, Kristen Stewart, would play a much more empowered Snow White character than we have ever seen before.  For all that is said about her performances in the "Twilight" films, it is not Stewart who serves as the weak link here, rather it is the film's choppy uneven narrative and it's overlong running time. 

     Between some truly great stuff from Charlize Theron's Evil Queen, we are drug down by at least four scenes which could easily have been left on the cutting room floor.    Like the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, the characters in "SWATH" are basically making a journey on foot for nearly the entire film.  Along the way, they run into things and some of them are not integral to the plot.  You'll notice too that even with these overlong sequences, the characterization still suffers, especially with Chris Hemsworth's Huntsman character.  He's introduced to us and then hired by the Queen to find Snow White in about a 5 minute span. There's really no explanation as to why he's the man for the job.  When he encounters Snow White, she is able to convince him not to capture her in a matter of seconds, thus we never understand where or why the Huntsman's loyalties actually are.

     The story in "SWATH" is a familiar one as it is generally the same tale as it's Brothers Grimm source material.  Charlize Theron's Evil Queen Ravenna murders her way to the thrown and imprisons Snow White, the deceased King's daughter, after her magic mirror tells her she is the fairest, but Snow White is destined to replace her.  After a daring escape, Snow White takes refuge in the woods, where she and the Huntsman first meet.  It's at that point the journey begins where Snow White intends on reuniting with her long lost brother to help her overthrow the Queen.

     There are several excellent examples of creativity throughout the film.  Two which come to mind are the scenes in the Enchanted Forrest and the 8 Dwarfs who aid Snow White during her journey.  The Enchanted Forrest is a truly magical place and the filmmakers populate it with all sorts of imaginary creatures.  Likely inspired by the efforts that went into creating Pandora in "Avatar", artists have created pixies, turtle like creatures whose shell grows colorful plant life, and various butterflies within the trees.  As they pass through, the film is never visually better than that sequence.  As I mentioned, along for the ride are 8 Dwarfs.  Rather than hire 8 little people to play the roles, they opted instead to use the magic of CGI and use performances by Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins among others to play the characters.  The effects here are seamless and integrate overall extremely well with the other live action characters they interact with.

     Charlize Theron is doing well playing the "evil bitch" type lately.  You may remember her role in last year's "Young Adult" as the psycho Mavis Gary and next week her Meredith Vickers in "Prometheus" is said to be another villainous character.  In "SWATH", Theron carries the picture from beginning to end.  Nearly everything that is interesting in the film involves her inability to tolerate any insult to her vanity.  She is obsessed with her standing as the most beautiful woman in the land and getting old is not an option, thus the willingness to magically suck the youth out of countless young female victims in the film.  Theron's casting was brilliant and the performance she turns in gives the film the strong villain a story like this has to have to succeed.

     Overall, I have to view both attempts at the Snow White story this year as disappointments.  The problem with "SWATH" is how good it really looked only to realize it is a carbon copy of better films in the genre.  We get plenty of scenes with large armies on horses colliding on the battle field along with a lot of walking from place to place.  Combined with the Queen's black magic, the story reminds me a lot of the characters and setting in "Willow" for those of you who remember that far back!  Director Rupert Sanders has probably seen all of these films, but seems to have failed to put his creative signature on "SWATH" as it plays like somewhat of a "Lord of the Rings" rerun. With the players involved, I doubt it will have problems finding financial success, but a film like this should've packed more of a punch and not contained so much fat. GRADE: C+