Snow White and the Huntsman review

Snow White and the Huntsman is the newest installment from Hollywood's recent love for adapting fairytales with a new twist. We've had recent movies such as Red Riding Hood and Mirror Mirror grace the silver screen, plus we've got even more heading our way. So how does the second Snow White movie of 2012 compare? Well, you'll be pleased to hear that it's a rather surprising success.

You know the story: the vicious and possessive evil queen Ravenna (Theron) becomes ruler of the land. Obsessed with preserving her power forever she asks her magic mirror for guidance to her destiny. Upon hearing that one day her stepdaughter, Snow White (Stewart) will surpass her as the fairest of them all and retake her rightful throne, she sets out to ensure her supreme power will endure. The only way to do this is by consuming Snow White's heart of course. When Snow White escapes from her captivity in the tower she flees into the Dark Forest. Soon after Ravenna hires the Hunstman (Hemsworth) to track down and re-capture the young princess. Snow White soon learns she has a destiny to pursue and encounters allies and enemies on her quest.

One of the most striking details of the film is the tone and style adopted by first-time director Sanders. It's a filthy and bleak world filled with fantasy. It's in the vein of the Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones, containing mystical elements but a grounded realism remains throughout. The grand settings and creatures are accomplished through masterful CGI that manages to make trolls, dark magic and even dwarves look stunning. The pacing of the film is swift, quickly moving on to new settings and characters, never lingering too long. Along with the pounding music and slick editing it's a well crafted piece of work.

When it comes to performances this movie is the Theron show. Relishing in a role that every young girl wanted to have at some point, the evil queen. Theron hams up the role but just to the right degree to play an egotistical witch obsessed with her own beauty.  She has many strong moments and when combined with a menacing soundtrack to accompany her she truly feels like a fairy tale villainess. Hemsworth on the other hand plays a more tragic figure than we've seen before in Thor. He's a compelling hero caught between a rock and a hard place. Even Kristen Stewart, who has never previously impressed this reviewer, served the story well. She is initially rather limited but as the character develops Stewart puts plenty of effort into her physical presence and I was pleased to see Stewart in a more challenging role. The comic relief is provided by an all-star cast of eight dwarves (I know) With such acting heavyweights as Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, Toby Jones, Nick Frost and Bob Hoskins. The dwarves look superb on screen but be warned these aren't your traditional Disney dwarves, don't expect them to break out into a song.

My only issue with the film was that it contained a few too many characters. By the end it feels as if there is too much to cover, with the Queen's brother and Prince Charming both feeling left out. Even the Huntsmen is shunned by the final moments of the film, almost left in as an afterthought. There were moments were the story was rushed along hurtling towards the final act but it's nothing unforgivable for a summer blockbuster.

All in all, it's an excellent summer romp that takes the traditional Snow White tale, brushes over certain traditional plot points and injects some new material in places. The film keeps the audience on its toes and never feels predictable. With good performances and strong direction, this is one blockbuster that won't send you to sleep.

Snow White and the Huntsman at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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