"An action packed blockbuster that has proved a worthy re-imagining of the much loved tale, giving it an epic spin yet remaining loyal to the original story..."
We have of course been treated to a Snow White adaptation this year already in Tarsem Singh's pantomime-esque Mirror Mirror, but that couldn't be more different from Rupert Sanders' Snow White and the Huntsman, where we see a deeper, darker interpretation of the classic fairy tale, and considering just how many adaptations there have been in recent years - the début film-maker has presented a feature certainly worthy of being crowned the fairest of them all.
Remaining loyal to the original tale, princess Snow White (Kristen Stewart) loses her mother (Liberty Ross) to illness at a young age, and as her new step-mother marries her father to become Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) - the evil dictator kills her husband to take over the kingdom, causing poverty and murdering innocent civilians as she merely revels in her own fortunes. With the aim of remaining youthful and beautiful for eternity, the evil Queen needs the pure blood of Snow to aid her cause, yet she soon discovers that her step-daughter has fled the castle.
As Snow enters the dark forest she is being followed by the despairing Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), set on a mission to recapture her by the Queen - yet he soon finds it within his heart to protect Snow instead, and shield her from the evil spirits that are following her every move. After befriending eight dwarves in the forest, the collective join forces with the people of the kingdom - including Snow's admirer Prince William (Sam Claflin), as they seek in finally disposing of the heinous Queen, as Snow White intends on claiming back the kingdom that is rightfully hers.
There is a wonderfully striking and bleak setting to this picture, as Sanders uses colours to great effect, symbolic in his approach as he depicts good versus evil masterfully, playing bright colours against dark colours to make for an emotive production. Such vibrancy within the setting is depicted mostly in the dark forest, which is brilliantly murky and intimidating. Although Sanders cleverly contrasts such a sentiment within a spectacularly magical scene where the forest becomes almost enchanted with angels and unicorns. It goes without saying that of course there are some moments that are all a bit silly, and things can fall into place a little too easily - but the magical aspects that are employed by Sanders allow for a suspension of disbelief from the audience, as we let the talented director take us wherever he pleases.
It helps in that the visual effects are fantastically deployed throughout, particularly concerning the ever changing image and ageing of the evil Queen. The Dwarves also look wonderfully realistic, an impressive feat given the actors playing them consist of the somewhat taller Ray Winstone, Nick Frost and Bob Hoskins, amongst others.
The Dwarves are literally showcasing some of the very best of British talent, as those already mentioned are joined by Johnny Harris, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones and Ian McShane. Yet despite the vast amount of credentials on show, the lack of involvement for the Dwarves proves to be one of the film’s few misgivings. They simply aren't used to their full potential, given too little screen time, and they are severely lacking in individual personality. You will struggle to remember any of their names for example, and this is the one stand-out aspect that Mirror Mirror certainly succeeds in to greater effect.
There are notable performances by Hemsworth, who is brilliant once again, and Theron - who is fantastically sadistic as the Queen. In contrast, however, is the unimpressive Stewart, as despite her inherent feistiness, she struggles to fully get to grips with portraying both the dainty, innocent nature of the beautiful princess, and conversely the cold-blooded, merciless side she must show when going to battle with the Queen’s army. Unfortunately she seems to find a quite feeble middle ground between the two.
Another downside comes in the potential love triangle between Snow, The Huntsman and Prince William. It all seems too superfluous and completely irrelevant to the actual plot. It almost defeats the whole point to a fairy tale too, as traditionally we just have a princess going after her prince charming. Not a princess going after prince charming and his mate Gary.
Snow White and the Huntsman is good fun however, and an action packed blockbuster that has proved a worthy re-imagining of the much loved tale, giving it an epic spin yet remaining loyal to the original story. For a début film it is certainly a quite impressive achievement for Sanders, and not too many film-makers can boast sending a naked Charlize Theron into a bath of double cream throughout their entire career, let alone in their first film. And following on from this, I for one am certainly looking forward to his second film.