Director: Rupert Sanders Screenplay: Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini. Genre: Action/Adventure/Drama Starring: Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin
Once upon a time, a young British commercial director Rupert Sanders grabbed a camera and made a rushed clip of what he envisioned the truth behind Snow White’s story to be. His vision was one of beauty; where light can overcome the dark and magic is something you can not only see, but something you can feel. Where empowerment and empathy make you the fairest, and where beauty only exists if you have the strength of heart to back it up. Snow White and The Huntsman is an enthralling and thought-provoking take on this timeless fairytale. Unlike few modern attempts to re-create the classic fairytales (ie. Sleeping Beauty starring Emily Browning – a strange and haywire take on the original story), Sanders remains truthful and traditional, taking the tale back to its Grimm roots, with a faithful medieval script and plot, carefully written by a talented trio of Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini.
There is a fine line between cliché and tradition, and the film approaches this line very nearly, however not enough to deem Snow White and The Huntsman as boring and predictable. The dark twists and eerie turns in the movie are what actually capture the audience, keeping them on their seat, not knowing what will happen next. Those who go see Snow White with the idea that they know what they are in for should re-consider. This is not the fairytale of Snow White that we know and love. There is no singing down a wishing well in this film. Kristen Stewart is playing Snow White, for God’s sake, and she does it remarkably.
Charlize Theron is ball-busting as the raucously evil Queen Ravenna - the beautiful new wife of dashing widower King Magnus (Noah Huntley) whose daughter Snow White is considered the most stunning in the land. Ravenna, who was told “beauty is power” by her late Mother, is angered by this, and commits many solemn acts in retaliation, one of which results in the poor Snow White spending her teenage years locked in a dirty tower. Miraculously, she did this without the need to pluck her eyebrows and without sprouting any acne. Showing the first signs of gusto, Snow White breaks free, only to now become the Queen’s “Most Wanted” escaped-prisoner. Drunken widower, Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) is ordered to bring the Queen her heart so that she can “live forever”. Armed with an axe, he trudges into the woods, however, the endearing widower’s conscience gets the better of him. The film follows their journey through the dark forest, on the travel to meet with the Duke (Vincent Regan). There, with help from charming Prince William (Sam Claflin) they will attempt to defeat the Queen together.
For his first feature, Sanders is astonishing, approaching the tale with enough to darkness to startle and enough lightness to add beauty. The recurring theme of darkness and lightness effectively conveys the true message of the film – that strength and beauty of heart is more powerful than anything else. Kristen Stewart’s gutsy yet endearing Snow White is a giant leap away from a portrayal of Bella Swan that some may argue as “weak”. Although, the two characters share similarities in selflessly fighting for the things they care about. This side of Kristen not only can convince haters of her true acting ability, but also provides a visual treat with her natural yet enigmatic beauty. The beauty of Snow White’s strong soul captures the heart of many – whether they be in the audience or in the film.
It wouldn’t be Snow White without the dwarves. For an unknown reason, there are eight of them, but whatever the number, the burly creatures (including Nick Frost, Ray Winstone and Ian McShane) provide laughs and a mild-profanity to the film. What we see unfold is an army made up of strong human traits. This ain’t no superhero movie. We can actually relate to the characters and experience their discomfort without knowing they’re going to make it out okay. The film is gritty and challenging, with the perfect balance of horror and realism. Oscar-winner Colleen Attwood’s costumes are simple enough not to distract, but thoughtful enough as to help contribute to the Medieval setting so effectively created by the visual effects team and Alice In Wonderland producer Palak Patel. Teamed with James Newton Howard’s triumphant score, the result is a special cinematic experience.
Snow White and The Huntsman sets the bar for all upcoming fairytale action flicks. It is gutsy, thrilling, haunting, energetic, imaginative, funny, heart-stopping and breath-taking, with an all-round fantastic cast and captivating visuals that will stay with you even after you leave the movie. The films that inspire are the best kind of films, and Snow White inspires even the weakest of children, convincing them that if you do something with all of your heart and strength, then you’ll all live happily ever after.