The story of Snow White is one that needs no introduction. Since the Grimm brothers first collected this German fairy tale in 1812, it has been retold in many ways, with all sorts of unique twists. For most, the story of Snow White calls to mind the 1937 Disney classic, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (the first full-length animated feature in history). Of course, the 1937 Disney Snow White which features a singing damsel in distress who is saved by a charming group of dwarves along with a dashing prince who brings her back to life with his kiss is a bit antiquated. Thus, it is no real surprise that Hollywood felt compelled to alter the plot once again with Snow White and the Huntsman… we are living in a post feminist society after all.
Snow White and the Huntsman casts Kristen Stewart as the lead in this “epic adventure” film. Stewart’s performance of Snow White certainly presents more of a strong female character than the Disney original (and for that matter, a stronger character than Bella in the Twilight series). Stewart’s Snow White is more of a Joan of Arc type of gal, bringing men together for her cause after enduring years of imprisonment under the cruelty of her evil stepmother, who is played by Charlize Theron. Unsurprisingly, I would say Theron’s performance was by far the best in the film. Throughout many adaptations of Snow White, audiences have seen the vain queen as a jealous witch with no real mission except to ruin pretty little Snow White’s life. Theron gives the audiences a bit more of a psychological thrill in this role; showing how beauty can lead to power, and power can lead to madness.
As previously mentioned, this movie was marketed as an “epic adventure” film, and it strove to deliver that. As such, I would say it fell flat at times. There were lulls in the plot that bored me, and despite the quest to create a Snow White with a stronger will, there was a lack of depth to sustain any believability in my mind. I would say that even Chris Hemsworth as the hardened and depressed Huntsman had more of an emotional spectrum than Snow White. I had also been anticipating a bit more romance in this story, but there wasn’t much chemistry to be found.
Nevertheless, the film had its redeemable qualities. First and foremost was the cinematography and special effects, which Universal Studios did not spare a penny on. Snow White and the Huntsman came with the incredible price tag of $170 million, and it really shows on the big screen. Visually, the movie was quite attractive and there was an element of darkness that is very fitting for a Grimm Brothers tale. While Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves presented a squeaky clean, G rated version of the story, it is important to remember that most fairy tales were a bit frightening originally.
Those of you considering seeing this PG-13 adaptation are probably wondering how close it follows the original fairy tale. Well, I won’t spoil anything for you but I will note that there is plenty of magic involved and many of the characters we know and love from various adaptations appear as well, but in a reinvented form of course. This is probably evident, since you may recall that while the Huntsman allows Snow White to get away in most versions, he does not stay by her side thereafter. Additionally, in no version does Snow White pull together an army to tear her stepmother from the throne. These twists kept the plot somewhat interesting but I wouldn’t say the creativity was all that impressive.
To wrap it up, I found Snow White and the Huntsman to be mediocre. I wouldn’t entirely dissuade you from seeing it; it had many aspects that might appeal to fantasy lovers, both male and female alike. It also had some great action scenes, especially towards the end. But overall this movie fell flat in its attempt to instill life in an antiquated fairy tale.