If you’re a fan of pretty shiny things taking a walk to the bad place, this movie is for you. And not that there’s anything wrong with that, because when you’ve got a story that has been repurposed so many times, you need to add something new. In fact, we’ve already been presented with two very different versions of the story this year, with Snow White and the Huntsman offering up the dark, visually stunning and graphic interpretation of the familiar fairy tale.
Here we have a ruthless Queen Ravenna who sees her beauty as a vehicle for power and control. She has conquered several kingdoms, with even bigger plans to take over the entire continent. She learns from her “Magic Mirror” that her plans will be thwarted by her imprisoned stepdaughter, Snow White, who will also surpass her as the “fairest of them all.” The only way for Ravenna to remain in power and achieve immortality is to consume Snow White's heart. When Snow White manages to escape into the Dark Forest, Queen Ravenna summons a widowed huntsman named Eric to kill her. But after learning that he has been lied to by the evil Queen Ravenna, the huntsman takes pity on Snow White and teaches her how to kick some royal butt. With the aid of dwarves and her childhood love, Prince William, Snow White takes on Queen Ravenna’s powerful army and sets out to kill her stepmother once and for all.
At times the filmmakers fall in love with their special effects and lose sight of the story, often leaving it to tell itself. You hardly notice though since you’re already familiar with it. When the film does decide to switch things up, it does so in a very dark manner, especially with the battle scenes. A more developed love story would have made it more palatable, as Joss Whedon has taught us many times now.
I enjoyed the fresh portrayal of Snow White as a warrior and a leader. I’m a big fan of this new trend of empowered female roles within traditional stories and fairy tales. As a little girl who wanted to grow up and be a princess, I liked that although this Snow White had the help of an entire dwarf army and a few male friends (who are all obviously passive aggressively emotionally involved with her in some way or another), she carries herself just fine fighting the timeless battle of “I’m prettier and better than you.” Kudos to Kristen Stewart; this was a far cry from the shell of a human being she made her name playing.
And Charlize Theron as Queen Ravenna once again proves that she is the fairest, and sometimes meanest, actress of them all. Her performance is visceral and threatening, making her evil all the more “evil-y.” And after falling in love with his performances in both The Avengers and The Cabin in the Woods, I was more than happy to get even more Chris Helmsworth (although he was wasted in the role of the Scottish huntsman longing for a lost love).
The film did a good job of leaving the fairy tale portion of the story ambiguous and up to the viewer to figure out. This is definitely an improvement from handing it all to you on a silver platter. But with the current oversaturation of “winning” we’re all exposed to, it would have been almost refreshing to send my brain down a never-ending rabbit hole by not having the heroine live “happily ever after.” What happens if she doesn’t win? It’s like we’ll never know and I kind of want to know. Also, I can’t help but imagine what an interpretation of Cinderella would look like if remade by someone like Guillermo Del Toro.
In the end, Snow White and the Huntsman successfully put the “Grimm” back into the two hundred year old story and made it fit for fans who have already grown up. And I’d be surprised if this film didn’t get a nod or two towards its graphics and costuming at the Academy Awards next year.
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About the AuthorStacy Buchanan
Stacy is California born and raised, and happily living in Boston. By day, she’s a seasoned digital marketer, social media enthusiast and pop culture consumer. After studying special effects makeup and film for over 20 years, she is also full-time film buff and by night, produces content for horror publications, focusing on classic and contemporary horror films.