Snow White and the Huntsman

A key component of a fairy tale is the suspension of disbelief and the acceptance of the fantastical. For films like Snow White and the Huntsman, problems arise when a sense of realism is added to the tale that works in opposition to the fantasy.


Vain witch, Ravenna (Charlize Theron), learns that her chance for eternal youth lies in the heart and blood of the fair Snow White (Kristen Stewart). When Snow escapes from her captor, Ravenna hires the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to find her and return the princess to Ravenna’s castle. As the Huntsman travels with Snow White, he begins to learn her tale and discovers her destiny is to put an end to the darkness created by Ravenna when she took over the kingdom.

Snow White does two things very well and neither of them are storytelling. The visual effects and aesthetics keep the film going as you are more captivated by the look of the film than anything the characters are saying. The effects seamlessly allow Ravenna to use her magic with little “obvious” effects involved. At no point do you look at the screen and think, “I am clearly watching someone’s terrible computer-generated project.” Her faux army, transformations and the beasts in the Dark Forest provide solid visuals for the action scenes.

Next, the rest of the aesthetic steps up its game. The costumes are excellent, particularly Ravenna’s gowns, as they utilize such intricate and specific ingredients such as raven feathers and bones. You rarely get a chance to study the dresses, but if you look out for them, you won’t be disappointed. Couple this with great color contrasts throughout the film and the fantasy element of the story finds a way to become apparent.

Unfortunately, little else about the film really grabs your attention. The story drops off significantly after the initial fervor to set everything up. Ravenna is portrayed as the ultimate villain of the story, but once Snow White escapes, Ravenna becomes a secondary, almost non-existent character. As Snow White and the Huntsman travel to the safe kingdom run by Duke Hammond, the film introduces a plethora of new characters that don’t push the story any further. The story digresses into a simple quest tale and when they encounter fairy tale creatures—fairies and trolls—you have to be reminded the film is fantasy. All new information becomes redundant as the film belabors the point that Snow White is their salvation and she’s beautiful. It promotes vanity and wears on you.

Theron revels in her chance to be pure evil and doesn’t really go as over-the-top as the trailers made it seem. For all the criticism she takes, Stewart does a decent enough job showing interest in the character of Snow White. I’ve heard people bemoaning her rousing speech, but I wasn’t too affected by it (read: it’s not terrible, but not good either). Meanwhile, I really like Hemsworth, but I am beginning to think with his body shape and rough voice, he won’t be able to branch outside these types of films into a more dialog-centric film. He’ll be stuck with Keira Knightley in the perpetual type-cast booth.

They are in talks for a sequel, but as this article points out, there is nowhere for the story to go except into a love triangle between the Huntsman, Snow White and her childhood friend, William (Sam Claflin). That would be even worse than this rendition. For a film that had such potential, I was sorely disappointed that it falls so flat and doesn’t even fight for your attention.

    • shandra
    • October 12th, 2012

    you’d think that if they put that much attention into the little details such as the queen’s dresses, they’d focus a little more on ironing the story out. they dragged scenes out that i had to click on the “forward” button. what an anti-climactic ending. (and stewart is only capable of having two facial expressions: confused and scared)

  1. Good review. A lot darker and grittier than most fairy tales we see on the big screen, but it worked and gave this film a new edge to it that I think it needed. Story could have had more tension to it though.

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