Is It Only Visual Vanity At Stake? SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN Review 2

★★☆☆☆

Is Visual Vanity All Snow White has to offer?

I don’t think Hollywood quite has a grasp on what ‘going green’ really means. In the studios’ opinion it would seem to be recycling old material, whether that means scripts, plots, camera style, you name it. The problem with doing this is it leaves films wide open to harsh criticism because these are stories audiences are very familiar with, almost to the point they feel more confident in how they would handle the source material. The most recent film to hit theatres that’s been re-imagined is Snow White and the Huntsman.

War is spread across the land. First a king looses a wife then his own life to the devilishly attractive Ravenna (Charlize Theron). As her army invades the kingdom Snow White’s attempt at escape is interrupted when Ravenna’s brother snatches her up and whisks her back into the darkness of the castle. High in the tower Snow White (Kristen Stewart) is kept alive while the entire world assumes her lost like their king.

Many moons pass and years go by until Ravenna’s magic mirror explains that consuming Snow White’s heart would provide her with absolute immortality and youth. When she is being retrieved, Snow White makes her escape to the Dark Forest where — again — she is presumed dead fore no one dares to enter that treacherous place. The Huntsman (Chris Helmsworth) is called to the task of fetching Snow White from the forest because Ravenna’s powers don’t work there. Promised riches beyond wealth the Huntsman embarks on his journey unaware of the implications if his job is completed.

At first glace one cannot help but notice just how beautiful the film comes across. The panoramic shots of the countryside, the vibrant colours of the unreal, fantastic costume and set designs; all add up to some extremely impressive visuals. That is until one begins thinking of other fantasy features and this movie quickly becomes a cauldron, boiling together Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings Trilogy, a pinch of The Dark Knight, a splash of Princess Mononoke and horsehair from The NeverEnding Story. With all this meshing it can be difficult to remember this is a new film standing on its own.

Disappointment happens almost immediately as a narrator begins filling the audience in on what is going on over the land. With all the impressive visuals we really don’t need to have someone tell us this; remember directors, show don’t tell. Time and again the narrator — as well as other characters even — tells the audience Snow White is a great leader, a strong leader yet nothing about her character makes us believe this. As a matter of fact, Snow White may be the most passive character ever written for the screen. All one needs to do is be in her presence and he or she will become cured of whatever ails them. This requires no thought or focus on Snow White’s part, which is in stark contrast to Ravenna’s healing powers where intense concentration is necessary.

Along with the visuals, it is the use of the supporting characters and woodland creatures that Snow White and the Huntsman really did exceptionally well. Instead of using campy singing birds or over the top CGI, we see two magpies that direct Snow White through her escape. They don’t tell her how to do this they just fly in a direction and she follows. See, even the birds understand the concept of show, don’t tell.

But more impressive than the simplicity of the magpies is the utterly brilliant casting of the dwarfs. Opting instead to use clever editing and computer tech, full sized actors instead of little people play the dwarfs; the same style seen with LOTR’s hobbits. Without spoiling the surprise — though I’m sure many are already aware — these seven scrappy scamps are played by the who’s who of British actors; what could have easily been something that ruins the film actually adds a certain depth that makes these dwarfs folks we care about.

Snow White and the Huntsman is sure to be a film that will split their audience and range from avid supporters to die-hard despisers and well it should. The key to the debate will come done to one specific matter where the schism will be felt the most and that is the narrative. If you are a fan of awe-inspiring landscapes and larger-than-life adventures that open up to a world of unimaginable beauty and the visual is what you look for in your cinema experience, this film is perfect for you. But if you need to have a well-crafted plot and creative dialogue, I’m afraid her majesty disappoints.

David Rowley

Rating:12A
UK Release Date: 30th May 2012
Directed by:Rupert Sanders
Cast:Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Sam Claflin

Snow White and the Huntsman Official Movie Trailer 2 [HD] 2012 Published via LongTail.tv

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  • Sophie Stephenson

    Agree completely…first half made me quite angry at how slow and boring the story was with a few pointless scenes of the queen just there for more special effects…once the dwarves came into the story it improved but it just wasn’t the epic fantasy/action film it’d been promoted as. I see a sequel has been green-lit, no idea where they can go with that. Thought the performances were all good (apart from some overacting from Theron and Hemsworth’s accent) but blame the director for this not the actors themselves.