This retelling of Snow White's fairy tale has a huntsman being hired by the Queen to track Snow White through a dead forest after escaping the castle. He begins to doubt this new job when the truth surrounding his prisoner is revealed.
Revamping old fairy tales has become one of Hollywood's latest fads these past few years, and as most movie goers will tell you, it's been a rather slippery slope. BEASTLY was watchable, but not memorable (unless you consider having your dreams haunted by a Satan worshiping Olsen twin), and RED RIDING HOOD was scary alright, but for all the wrong reasons. I could care less for Snow White, it's classic singalong Disney after all which just isn't my brand of scotch. However, darken up the tone, throw in some axes, sorcery, monsters, Bella and Thor and I'll admit to being curious. The trailers gave this flick a "dare to be great" feeling and I have to tell you, for a fantasy film, this baby has some pretty solid legs to stand on.
Before I delve into the goods I have to protect my integrity by mentioning the following; I loathe lazy writing, recycled storytelling or an obvious cash grab, and from a creative or imaginative standpoint this film is in violation of all three. Did we need a new Snow White tale (or two for that matter, MIRROR, MIRROR is yet another summer revamp of this story)? Not really. Did we want one? Don't think so. My beef here is the same one I have with ABRAHAM LINCOLN VAMPIRE HUNTER and garbage like PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES. To quote George R.R. Martin (author of GAME OF THRONES), "Using someone else's world is the lazy way out." Truer words brother, truer words. So in the case of originality I can't say I approve, but as far as entertainment value goes this film has plenty.
Clearly you'll have to love fantasy if you're gonna fall under Snow White's spell, and this film definitely takes from the best, feeling a bit like LORD OF THE RINGS, A PRINCESS BRIDE, and it quite shamelessly steals a few pages out of WILLOW's handbook to be sure, but it works and that's what counts (and the poor huntsman isn't the first dude to be swindled by a Queen in hopes of having his wife brought back from the dead, CONAN was also duped and sent on a similar recon mission). The scenery is gorgeous from the props to the landscapes, down to the CGI. Like the evil Queen, the visuals here will quite literally steal your breath away. Everything about this strange world is vivid and fresh. The Queen is more a victim here than a tyrant, vindictive and black hearted to be sure, but a victim nonetheless. The idea of giving her a brother, much less the huntsman (or the Duke's son for that matter) adds some meat to this thin tale and rounds out the plot in a way that feels like more than just your average fairy tale. I liked that. Rather than just throwing a "pretty carbon copy" at us, they dressed it up like a true Princess and gave us the royal treatment.
SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN isn't literary genius by any stretch, but it's a magical story that encompasses everything a modern day fairytale should in a day and age where it's easy to be lazy and money hungry. The acting is also quite good, starting with Kristen Stewart who I loathe as Bella Swan, but after watching this I can see that's simply a testament to how great an actress she truly is because she's a knockout as Snow White. Chris Hemsworth is a cool huntsman and Charlize Theron is having the time of her life playing the poisonous Queen. There's also some cool performances from the Dwarfs (Bob Hoskins in particular), and for my money, the end battle with Snow White in armor personally bringing the fight to the Queen was epic. The look alone Theron and Stewart share (the Queen from her balcony and Snow White from the courtyard) as they breach the castle was in itself spellbinding. I enjoyed this flick but I can't say I'm excited by the slew of fairytale based movies in the pipeline; Hansel and Gretal, two Sleeping Beauty flicks, another Beauty and the Beast, a live action Cinderella and (I kid you not) a dark themed Little Mermaid flick. Sigh. If ever there was a red flag warning that Hollywood's in trouble, this would be it. That said, SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN was good times, and better yet, it wasn't in 3D.