Over the past couple months, I’ve become a fan of Chris Hemsworth. So when “Snow White” opened, I decided to check it out. Honestly, I went in with mediocre expectations; this is the story of Snow White after all. To put it mildly, I was pleasantly surprised. I actually really enjoyed this film. This is no “ha-ha-funny” fairy tale. This is a true blue Grimm Brothers tale, dark and sinister to the hilt.
I’ll spare you all an in-depth storyline breakdown since I feel we’re all pretty familiar with one of the oldest and most-beloved fairy tales. The bare bones plot runs as follows: Snow White’s mother, the queen dies. Her father re-marries the beautiful (and evil) wicked queen who quickly offs him and takes over the kingdom. Through the years, she keeps Snow White locked up until her magic mirror tells her she’s not the fairest anymore, and in true lady-like fashion she goes postal. Our heroine escapes into the Dark Forest before she can join daddy in the ground and the hunt is on. Enter the Huntsman, played by Hemsworth. He’s sent to track her down. Of course, he joins her side, they meet the dwarves, gather more supporters, an epic battle is waged, the wicked queen is destroyed, credits roll.
What I enjoyed: to be fair, I was a little wary of the fact that Kristen Stewart (of “Twilight” fame) was carrying the title role. I saw only the first “Twilight” film (one was enough), and I responded with a resounding “meh.” I actually enjoyed her performance here. She was believable and held the strength of her character even when sharing the screen with Hemsworth or Charlize Theron…speaking of whom. Theron takes the role of the wicked queen and owns it. There’s no joking around with her. She’s pure evil. She prefers sucking souls out of poor victims, thank you very much. Then you’ve got Hemsworth. He really carries the film. I mean, you could have called the movie “The Huntsman,” and it would have been fine. From his intro as a drunken brawler, he gradually opens up throughout the film until we come to learn of the man underneath – a much more interesting character than Snow White, but I digress. The dwarves (shrunk down in true “Lord of the Rings” fashion) are played by a group of incredibly gifted actors (Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Nick Frost, Toby Jones, etc.) who add depth to the film. They even find time to throw a couple of “heigh ho” lines in for laughs. Then there’s the filming itself. The action pieces (and there are several) are fantastic and feel bigger than life. The opening sequence calls to mind the opening battle from “Gladiator” (minus the gratuitous bloodshed). The Dark Forest as well as the Enchanted Forest are equally enthralling (think “Pan’s Labyrinth”). Beautiful landscapes and fanciful creatures; what else would you expect from a fairy tale? Director Bryan Singer seemed to be going for a Guillermo del Toro feel, and did a good job of it.
What I didn’t enjoy: Theron could have been given more meaningful dialogue. At times, it felt like she was just waiting to scream the next wicked witch cliché. She exuded such a menacing presence, I wanted to know more about her. Moving on to Snow White’s young friend/odd man out/long lost love (huh?). I mean, the poor guy thought she died twelve odd years ago, but when he finds out she’s alive, well he’s all gung-ho to save his lady-love. Whenever he was on screen I just wanted Hemsworth to come across and kick him off camera. No need for some weeny Twilight-esque love triangle here. No offense, just cut the character. We all know who really loves Snow White….hello, did you read the title when you walked into the theatre?!
All in all, I enjoyed the film. It’s definitely dark with some scares/violence that gear it more toward the adult crowd. As far as fairy tales go, it’s not 100% “happily ever after,” but it really is a fun ride.