‘Snow White’ Hunts for Grit

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Ever since the recent success of Tim Burton’s reimagining of “Alice in Wonderland,” there’s been a huge urge in Hollywood to reboot certain classic fairy tales and give them new treatment. This year has been highlighted by the dual Snow White craze, which began when “Mirror Mirror” released back at the end of March, and now the second entry, “Snow White and the Huntsman,” has arrived.

Adapted from the classic Grimm Brothers fairy tale, this darker, more stylistic approach to the tale stars Kristen Stewart as Snow White. After escaping the Evil Queen’s (Charlize Theron) castle, the Queen orders the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to track her down, because she’s the fairest in the kingdom. However, the Huntsman realizes he’ll get nothing out of his assignment, so he decides to help Snow White lead a resistance against the Queen’s harsh regime. Add in the dwarves and medieval action, and you have a ride with lots of potential to impress.

I’ve never been a fan of Kristen Stewart’s acting in the Twilight franchise, but I have grown to really liking her in the roles she’s played outside those films. As Snow White, she combines her stilted, mopey line delivery from Twilight along with her understated acting approaches in her other films, and it actually pays off considerably well. It allows her to explore exquisite range in the character’s emotional core, and (gasp) you even see her smile several times throughout the film, too.

Thor … sorry, Chris Hemsworth is one of the best rising stars of this generation, and his charming, lighthearted charisma pays off once again in his performance as the Huntsman. As well-suited he is to playing the role, his character’s Scottish accent slips so much to a point where I can’t figure out whether he was speaking in that or his “Thor” accent. Even I have to admit that they both sound eerily similar to each other.

Charlize Theron, though, is the real standout as the Evil Queen Ravenna. Her portrayal of the character’s menacing lust towards Snow White strikes a high chord, and her methodical accent makes you feel very weary at what evil act her character might do next.

Director Rupert Sanders has had an extensive work in directing commercials before taking on this film, but his first-time effort pays off in several ways. He lends the film a dark, grimy style of cinematography, and he composes nearly every shot of each scene to show off enough rich detail in the setting. Furthermore, he stylizes the action scenes in an artful manner, whether it’s the tight shots or constant assault of swords and shields galore.

In addition, I give huge props to the film’s special effects artists. They construct a lot of detail into the film’s many creatures, especially a sequence involving a troll that faces off against Snow White and the Huntsman. However, their hard work shines the most in two key aspects. First off, they do a great job at turning the extremely talented British actors who play the dwarfs to miniature size in post-production. And finally, the scenes that take place in the land called the “Sanctuary” are immensely colorful and detailed in their surroundings.

As much fun and stylistic this blockbuster is, its main problems lie in the script. It feels like the creators rushed several core aspects of the Snow White story, especially for the fact that she has no training of any kind for the climactic final battle. Additionally, several key characters like the Huntsman aren’t used as much as they should.

Despite being a tad underwhelming given the hype it had, “Snow White and the Huntsman” still serves as a visually stunning and stylistic reimagining of the classic fairy tale. If you’ve never been a fan of Kristen Stewart as an actress, then this film most likely won’t change your opinion on her. However, if you’re able to look past that, there’s lot of enjoyment to be had with this dark, gritty take on one of the most famous fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5