Almost nothing is sacred these days, meaning every childhood story is eventually going to get a gritty retelling for the silver screen. Rupert Sanders’ Snow White and the Huntsman is what happens when a big studio like Universal sinks hundreds of millions of dollars into a hopeful franchise-starter, while casting an array of Hollywood’s biggest (Hemsworth) and sexiest (Theron) and Kristen Stewart (dumbest?). The three actors approach Sanders’ film with three different interpretations of the common tale and the result is mostly a bloated mess that’s 30 minutes too long and lacking an actual ending.
Snow White (Kristen Stewart) is the fairest of the land; pure and innocent and sort of attractive and desirable, according to the Queen’s (Charlize Theron) mirror. The Queen and Snow White have some history involving Snow White getting thrown into a dungeon for a stretch of years. Time passes and as Snow White develops into a young woman, the Queen develops into a weaker old lady, clawing at another fresh soul to take and regenerate her youth.
She now has her eyes set on Snow White, but her plans go kaput when Snow White escapes the kingdom. The Queen hires The Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to track Snow down and to bring her back, but while doing so he falls in love with her and finds a new purpose to live and to fight back.
You’ve heard it all before and director Rupert Sanders doesn’t even seem to care. His telling of Snow White might perhaps be a bit grittier and more violent than previous adaptations, but it’s no more creative or worthy of gracing the screen on such a modest budget. It’s actually more of a waste if anything, because not even the performances are shining stars among the murky forest and dark kingdom. Everything is full of dreary afterthought, as the characters carelessly wander around the woods, looking for something to do.
Kristen Stewart is easily the biggest offender in the film, offering up nothing more than another tired and spiritless performance. She literally looks like she’s running on about 3 hours of sleep the entire film and that doesn’t help her character’s motives feel any more urgent. Things just sort of happen and Snow White deals with them with an unaffected look on her face. I’m not sure if Stewart had completely no interest in the film or the character or if the writers simply had nothing scribbled down in the script for her to indulge in.
Things are a little brighter, or should I say darker, whenever Charlize Theron’s Queen wreaks havoc across the land. Theron embodies the bitchy queen with a giant stick up her ass for most of the film, which creates one of the most unlikable leads in a Hollywood blockbuster this past summer. She’s just pure evil and occasionally she hams it up and has a bit of fun with her dialogue. Some might count it as over-acting, but I’d just consider her performance another wide-ranged look at what Theron can do with such little material.
Thor‘s Chris Hemsworth continues playing the bulky hero that saves the day right on time. He’s got a bit more back story in this one to chew on, but he gets things heading in the right direction quickly and almost without effort. Hemsworth must have a knack for these brawny and sometimes brainless roles, because he just keeps coming back for more. The Huntsman is no Thor though and that proves to be evident early on in the film, when Hemsworth’s big-man charms become character beats that only help the film out when Sanders needs something thrown at a wall or slashed with a sword.
On the whole Snow White and the Huntsman is just an example of a big Hollywood studio milking the current trends. Director Rupert Sanders does nothing to stamp the film with his own unique brand of storytelling, instead he keeps things closely developing in the already established world of science fiction fantasy films. Watching Snow White and the Huntsman honestly feels like watching a big-budget generic take on a character we already know, without any sort of creativity to drive the production. Sanders’ version is a hair too long and lacking that punch that so many other initiated directors tend to fill their films with.
I almost hate how good this 1080p video transfer looks. Universal has yet again provided another glistening and near-spotless transfer to such a turd of a film. Snow White and the Huntsman boats an impressive dark atmosphere, full of grit and grime. There’s a lot of washed up grays and greens present, but all intentionally given a fairy tale glow that is gloomy and mystical. Brighter colors do make their way onto the screen whenever the characters travel to the more lively part of the forest. Beard stubble is enhanced and general skin tones are a tad on the pale side.
The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track comes charging at full-speed, with war and battle underway on the back channels and dialogue and evil laughter filling up the room on the front channels. This is another active-on-all-fronts track from Universal that takes extra advantage of the added 2 channels.
Snow White and the Huntsman comes with the following bonus content:
- Theatrical & Extended Versions of the film
- Audio Commentary
- U-Control, Picture-in-Picture (HD)
- Second Screen Experience
- Around the Kingdom: 360 Set Tour (HD)
- A New Legend is Born (HD)
- Reinventing the Fairy Tale (HD)
- Citizens of the Kingdom (HD)
- The Magic of Snow White and the Huntsman (HD)
- DVD Copy
- Digital Copy
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
Snow White and the Huntsman proved to be a worthy investment when it ended its worldwide theatrical run with around $400 million dollars. Universal is surely working on a sequel, with or without director Rupert Sanders and/or star Kristen Stewart. I’m sure we can count on Chris Hemsworth to reprise his role and possibly take a more leading approach to the surefire sequel, but that still doesn’t help wash the taste out left by Snow White and the Huntsman.
There’s not a single idea presented in the film that feels anything more than a lazy, second-attempt shot at getting some of the fantasy elements to actually stick into the film. Rupert Sanders‘ film is constructed without any other motives aside from money and the promises of future installments and it shows.
Chris Hemsworth works as hard as he should, while Charlize Theron brings a dual-sided performance, full of over-the-top silliness and downright evil treachery. Everything else is mundane though and nothing that escapes rental material, even though Universal crams the combo pack with a good size of special features, a sparkling video transfer and an effective audio mix.