Film Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

Visually alluring, Snow White and the Huntsman is a feast for the eyes. Unfortunately the rest of the film does not reach for the same apex as the art direction.

Following her father’s death, Snow White is locked away by her stepmother the Queen. A huntsman is sent to kill her when she escapes to the woods. Things get complicated, however, when the huntsman discovers Snow White’s true identity, and the implication this has on the kingdom…

In some ways, Snow White and the Huntsman reverts back to the traditional tale in terms of the brutality of the Queen. The film is more vicious than the Disney version of the tale. This works well to build an antagonist that is truly nasty; a good contrast to the fair heroine.

The main problem with Snow White and the Huntsman is that the first half of the film is very dull. Director Rupert Sanders gives the audience very little to spark the interest. The screenplay is lacklustre, and there is not even a decent set piece to capture the attention. The second half of the film fairs better, but Snow White and the Huntsman never quite recovers from the boredom of what precedes this.

Snow White and the Huntsman illustrates what appears to be some rich influences. Aside from the fairy tale itself, Snow White’s connection to nature evokes Excalibur, while the image of the strewn bodies on the Queen’s floor is suggestive of Elizabeth Bathory. Elsewhere, the troll and fairies seem an excessive exercise for a tale that already boasts a wealth of fantasy imagery.

The art direction of Snow White and the Huntsman is superb. David Warren and his team should be applauded for creating such a memorable and distinctive look for the film. Likewise, Colleen Atwood’s costumes are fantastic, as are the special effects.

Despite a strong cast, performances in Snow White and the Huntsman are lacking. Charlize Theron is a fine actress, but here her delivery is caricature; no doubt thanks to the direction she was given. Kristen Stewart does little to endear herself to audiences, while Chris Hemsworth also struggles with the material.

Snow White and the Huntsman is ultimately not as enjoyable as it should have been. On paper it has so much going for it, but sadly the realisation is different.