Movie Review: ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’

I don’t know what the point of this movie is. at times, it’s great to look at, and has some clever visuals such as dipping Charlize Theron in ivory or having her vanish in a murder of crows…or ravens, which are probably the right birds, seeing as how her name is Ravenna.

She’s the wicked queen who seduces the widower king and kills him on their wedding night and needs to drain the essence of the king’s daughter Snow White (Kristen Stewart) to become immortal. Ravenna tosses Snowy in the clink, but she escapes and retreats into the Dark Forest, the one place where Ravenna’s powers are useless. So Ravenna sends the one guy who’s made it through the Dark Forest before, the titular Huntsman Eric (Chris Hemsworth) to retrieve Snow White. Eric’s hesitant, but Ravenna promises him that if he succeeds, she’ll bring his wife back to life — or kill him if he doesn’t.

Meanwhile one of Snow White’s childhood friends (Sam Claflin) goes undercover as an archer in Ravenna’s Dark Army, headed by her whispy brother Finn (Sam Spruell). They pop up sporadically to menace Snowy and provide plot points, respectively.

Eric catches up with Snow White, and she tells him that it’s impossible to bring people back from the dead, which understandably miffs him, so he agrees to help her, guiding her first to a village of disfigured women and then getting caught up in a trap set by the seven dwarves — Muir (Bob Hoskins), Beith (Ian McShane), Gorth (Ray Winstone), Coll (Toby Jones), Duir (Eddie Marsan), Quert (Johnny Harris), Nion (Nick Frost) and Gus (Brian Gleeson).

All along the way, they’re chased by Ravenna, Finn, and their army of nasties. I assume this is pretty close to the source material, but, honestly, again, what’s the point? There’s no new or clever spin on the Snow White legend; the film exists mainly to show off the black-glass army of the queen and turn her into ravens. It’s a neat trick at first, but after a while you’re wanting more — and at two hours’ worth of running time, that’s a lot of wanting.

The relationship between Eric and Snow White is devoid of chemistry, and the threat of the Dark Army never feels as looming or, uh, dangeresque as everybody suggests. We spend the first half hour with Ravenna, who doesn’t really do much outside of drain comely young lasses of their souls and shout a lot. Once the film shifts to Snow White’s perspective, there’s just a lot of wandering through the forest with periodic attacks from Ravenna and Finn and some trolls and fairies to ogle.

I like all of the actors here — Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost — but they don’t have anything to work with. Save for maybe two jokes, the movie is utterly bereft of humor and feels that at any moment you could reach out and tip the cardboard over.

I wanted to like this movie, but it just takes itself so seriously and relies on recycling a few good visuals with nothing else. I like visual movies, but someone like, say, Tarsem, keeps his movies going along with endless creativity. Or something like Sin City shoots for cliched excess and hits every silly, stereotypical note. Snow White and the Huntsman never aims that high and misses most of its targets.

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