Every now and again, a film comes along where you wish that you could be transported into that world. For some, it’ll be highly stylised like Sin City while for others it’ll be more along the lines of an all-singing, all-dancing Moulin Rouge! where people simply burst into song. For me, it’s normally anything with a fantasy element to it, something like The Lord of the Rings or Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. After seeing Snow White and the Huntsman I have now found another one that I would quite happily be transported into.
In his directorial debut Rupert Sanders firmly treads the epic adventure, fantasy route, packing in plenty of action to a world that is both beautiful and terrifying. Populate it with a cast featuring an Oscar winner and two of Hollywood’s brightest young stars plus the promise that it will return to the darker roots of the Grimm fairytale and you have the makings of a captivating film.
It my opinion, it didn’t disappoint. Well, in some areas it did but on the whole it didn’t. Saying that, though, this is entirely my kind-of film: anything with a healthy dose of fantasy and adventure floats my boat. Though the accents do falter at points, Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth put in solid performances, particularly the former. Stewart is slowly but surely stepping out from Twilight‘s shadow while Hemsworth proved that he is just as handy with an axe as he is with a hammer. Theron, on the other hand, brought added depth and complexity that elevated her villainess Ravenna from the role of wicked stepmother.
Visually, from costume design to the locations and everything in between, Snow White and the Huntsman delivers. There is a suitably strong contrast between the dark, brooding atmosphere of Ravenna’s dilapidated castle and the joyful, colourful sanctuary that Snow White finds after her escape. A special mention must go to the supremely talented and the three-time Oscar-winning Colleen Atwood for her superb costume design. One of Ravenna’s dresses was reportedly crafted from the shells of dung beetles purchased from a flea market in Thailand!
Snow White and the Huntsman is, unfortunately, let down by its plot, which is the reason why it doesn’t scoop the full five stars. When it finished I felt like I’d been sitting in my seat for hours – not something that you or the studio bosses want to pop into your head. It is a beautiful world that Sanders has created but some trimming and tightening on the script would certainly have helped. For one, I didn’t feel any emotional attachment to Snow White. Ravenna is graced with a backstory that explains why she’s how she is. Snow White, on the other hand, is simply the daughter of a popular king who, for reasons unknown, has an affinity with nature. Why this is could have been embellished on, in my opinion.
While not in the same league as say Tim Burton, Snow White and the Huntsman does add enjoyably add a dark, gritty feel to the beloved fairytale. It attempts to be epic and, in many ways, succeeds and is a worthy addition to the fantasy genre.