FRACTURED FAIRY TALE
Snow White Reimagined, Wearing Armor
It's pretty obvious that first-time director Rupert Sanders and the three screenwriters credited with "Snow White and the Huntsman" put in some serious time watching "Game of Thrones" and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy before they concocted their reimagining of the Snow White fairy tale.
And while they have succeeded quite well in making the film look a lot like a mélange of that brilliant HBO television series and Oscar-winning film trilogy, unfortunately that's where the similarities end. For this flick is a big, overblown medieval mash-up of oft-told tales featuring an evil queen, her creepy brother, a sweet young thing and a couple of big handsome men along for the ride.
It's not quite the Snow White story that has been passed down over the centuries however, as we follow Kristen Stewart in the title role. She's still a princess, and the wicked queen is still obsessed with being the most beautiful, but there the similarities end. Dwarves do turn up eventually, but instead of keeping house for them, Snow White dons armor and leads them and a phalanx of soldiers in an attack on the queen's castle.
In between there are plenty of personal moments that our heroine shares with her usually drunk huntsman protector (Chris Hemsworth), much of those set in a deadly forest filled with crawly creatures. There the influence of "The Princess Bride" is obvious, but with none of the charm—nor the rodents of unusual size. The result is the same: romance blossoms, but in this film there isn't one iota of chemistry between the two leads, which makes the relationship almost impossible to believe.
Once they get out of the forest and meet up with those dwarves, we're in "Lord of the Rings" territory as they tramp across the countryside, complete with visuals that are practically lifted straight from those films.
Meanwhile, Charlize Theron is back at the castle, chewing up the scenery as the evil queen who will stop at nothing to retain both her beauty and her throne. Her costumes are grand (some of the best elements of the film), but as we return over and over to her over-emoting in an empty room about the same thing, it's hard to not yell at the screen, "We get it already!"
But the biggest problem with "Snow White and the Huntsman" is the pacing. Long stretches of the movie are painfully slow, as our heroine communes with nature, wrestles with her fate and yes, finally, takes a bite of a poisoned apple. But she's not out for long, awakening to suddenly turn into a female warrior who wields a sword like a professional. Where she learned that skill after being locked in a high tower for more than ten years is anyone's guess, but there's little or no logic in this fractured fairy tale.
And not much fun, either.
Reviewed by Jenny Peters