Snow White and the Huntsman: Setting the bar for future fairytale adaptions

by Michael Clancy

This has to be the muddiest fairytale adaptation ever brought to the silver screen. Forget the halcyon days of Disney princesses serenading woodland creatures. Here scenery and characters alike are caked in mud for the majority of the film’s duration. Game of Thrones gritty, dirty fingerprints can be seen all over this film, albeit with considerably less violence and nudity, which are here substituted for huge doses of cheese, valiant speeches, tough heroic facial expressions.

Snow White and the Huntsman re-imagines the classic tale as the story of  a princess, Snow White (Kristen Stewart), who is imprisoned by her step-mother Ravenna (Charlize Theron), following the murder of the king. Snow White escapes, and with the aid of a widowed huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), and a band of warrior dwarves, sets out to defeat the queen and restore balance to the kingdom.

There are strong performances from all involved. Love her or hate her, Kristen Stewart nails it as a sympathetic, kick-ass warrior princess, making a valiant effort of tackling the critics who have labelled her this generation’s Keanu Reeves. The dwarves are played by an eclectic and impressive bunch of English and Irish actors, including Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, Brian Gleeson, and Nick Frost. The dwarves come close to stealing every scene they’re in. They may have been the highlight of the whole film if it wasn’t for Charlize Theron’s over-the-top, gleefully evil turn as Ravenna. She oozes malice, chewing through every word of dialogue and spitting them out with venom, leaving you in anticipation for her next appearance on screen.

The legendary tale is re-imagined with some clever and original additions, including a village of women who have scarred their faces in an attempt to avoid the queen’s wrath, while also hitting the key story cues of the original tale. Fans of the 1937 Walt Disney film will be pleased to know that a whole host of woodland creatures also come to Snow White’s aid, in an homage to the animated classic.

Only a few minor problems hold the film back. The story can often feel slightly rushed in parts as the plot is pushed along to fit the film’s epic scale into a two hour running-time. There is also an over-reliance on CGI, which seems at odds with the attempts at gritty, realism in earlier scenes.

Snow White and the Huntsman does a great job of re-imagining a classic fairytale for fans of epic, dark fantasy. Hopefully the fairytale films to follow, including  Jack the Giant Killer, and Hansel and Gretel: Witch-Hunters, can rise to the bar that this tale has set.

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