Snow White and the Huntsman

A CGI confection spun around the bones of the well-known fairy tale.

What is Charlize Theron doing in this movie—such a fine actress, reduced to shopworn rants and glowers? Or the warmly charismatic Chris Hemsworth (fresh from The Avengers)? And how to explain the presence of Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, and Nick Frost—all of them, it pains me to report, playing dwarves?

Snow White and the Huntsman is a CGI confection spun around the bones of the Grimm fairy tale. The picture has moments of familiar digital beauty, but many more passages of effects and conceptions borrowed directly from earlier films. An otherworldly white stag strongly recalls Harry Potter’s guardian Patronus; the sight of a fellowship of humans and dwarves hiking along a rocky mountain ridge is one of several lifts from the Lord of the Rings films; and, going way back, there’s a spooky figure erupting into a flock of black birds that seems derived from Madonna’s old Frozen video. Not to mention echoes of Braveheart and various Joan of Arc films, as well as a truly lamentable incursion of neo-Disney bunnies and butterflies and adorable, big-eyed pixies.

What the movie lacks are any surprises: being an expensive inflation of one of the best-known of all kiddie tales, it’s basically Much Ado About Snow White.

Kristen Stewart, so good in movies like Adventureland and The Yellow Handkerchief, has too much modern spunk to be entirely credible as the pure-hearted Princess Snow, although she gives it a game try. When Snow’s mother dies, her father, the king, takes up with and marries the evil Ravenna (Theron), here an immortal harridan who feeds on the beauty of luckless younger women to maintain her own timeless allure. Informed by her trusty mirror (a sort of big gong, oddly) that Snow has displaced her as the fairest in the land, Ravenna dispatches her hissable brother Finn (Sam Spruell, in a prize-winningly silly platinum hairdo) to find a Huntsman (Hemsworth) to take Snow into the fantastical Dark Forest and kill her. The Huntsman falls in love with the winsome princess, as you’ll recall, and he effects her escape from Finn and his pursuing soldiers. After a series of computer-assisted adventures (in one of which Snow faces down a rampaging troll with nothing more than simple sweetie-power), the fleeing duo falls in with seven dwarves (several sporting conical Kid ’n Play hair styles); eventually, with the help of Snow’s still-infatuated childhood friend William (Sam Claflin), they all make their way back to Ravenna’s castle for an inevitable girl-fight confrontation.

First-time director Rupert Sanders ably whips up all the usual medieval muck and battle-axe clangor and skies full of sailing arrows, but we’ve seen all of this many, many times before. He also wages an uphill battle against some of the dialogue concocted by Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock, and Hossein Amini—lines like “She is life itself!” and “You let her slip through your tiny little fingers!” and (with a near-audible thud) “I should’ve never got involved.”

The movie is nicely mounted, for the most part (there’s a Ravenna milk-bath scene that has a creamy elegance) and it might be a treat for some young viewers (it’s rated PG-13). There’s quite a bit of hearty action (however standard-issue), and a modest complement of frights (none of them classic, unfortunately—although the sight of a four-foot-tall Ian McShane is pretty unsettling). For an older audience, though, there’s never a moment in which you wonder where this story—a staple of so many childhoods—is going. By the time the movie passes the two-hour mark, you start to wonder why it’s taking so long to get there.

Kurt Loder is a writer living in New York. His third book, a collection of film reviews called The Good, the Bad and the Godawful, is now available. Follow him on Twitter at kurt_loder.

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  • Timrek||

    Good honest review. That's about what I expected. I'm now glad Viggo didn't touch this one. Also, am the only one that doesn't think Kristen Stewart's very attractive? She's OK but not at all "fairest in the land'" level of beauty.

    I'll send my wife and daughter.

  • ||

    They were ripping on that on the radio this AM. I believe the comparison was White Stripes Lead Singer with a Wig and a Dress.

    And give the way Charlize is made to look in that movie...that talking mirror is dumber than a bag o' bricks.

  • Rasilio||

    Yeah she is definately only ok on the beauty scale. Not ugly by any stretch but at best she has a "believable girl next door" sort of beauty rather than an "OMG am I looking at an angel" type.

    That said I havn't seen the movies she was supposedly good in but from what I have seen of her acting she ranks right up there with Denise Richards (who is way better looking, especially when whe was the same age as Kristen) in terms of being truely horrible.

  • ChrisO||

    She was good in the Runaways movie. I believe she played Joan Jett.

  • The Hammer||

    She did, and she was.

  • perlhaqr||

    Well, she doesn't compete very favorably with Theron, that's for sure.

  • R C Dean||

    I have to say, I'm getting a little tired of these warrior princesses who look like they can barely lift an hors d'eouvre (also, a minor quibble with Serenity, BTW.

    Seriously, if you want a credible fightin' female, she needs a few frickin' muscles, a la Linda Hamilton in T2.

  • ||

    I haven't seen the actual film yet, but there was certainly some legitimacy in having former MMA star Gina Carano as an action hero.

    Cory Everson also played the part of female warrior in a few Hercules TV episodes. That's the gold standard for hot female warrior.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    That film was pretty mediocre. Some good fight scenes, but still basically on the 'not believable' side of the street. I mean if you're going to make a standard action movie, why bother putting Gina Carano in it.

    She wasn't bad by any means, but it was just kind of a waste. Also completely wasted the use of Ewan Macgregor and Antonio Banderas.

    And COMPLETELY wasted Bill Paxton.

    It's like they just cobbled together a few scenes from whatever Bourne movie they could find and put a chick in it instead.

    Worth watching but meh. Probably about the same as this Snow White trifle.

  • ||

    What about that chick who is a knight in Game of Thrones?

  • T||

    Completely believable. She looks like an old school Eastern European 'female' athlete.

  • kinnath||

    Linda went from Beauty and the Beast to legitimate action hero. The difference between Linda in T1 and T2 is impressive.

  • RigDaVig||

    That looks like its gonna be cool dude.

    www.Data-Privacy.tk

  • ||

    Please don't attitube the white stag thing to Harry Potter. That's been a recurrent element in myths and fairy tales dating back to the greeks. Harry Potter is derivative, it borrows most of it's elements from pre-existing fantasy, fairy tale and mythological literature.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    I think he's just saying we've seen a CGI rendered ghostly 3-D hart prancing about the screen fairly recently.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'm with Hazel--attributing that to Harry Potter is silly, as that's just one of the many things in Harry Potter derived from earlier works and myths.

  • T||

    Tyolet laughs at your Harry Potter.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    I don't read it like he thinks Rowling was the first person to use the stag in a story, but that you're not going to see that part of this movie without thinking of our poor Harry's dead dad.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's too much used in myth and fantasy to do that to any but the most obsessed Potterians. Never even occurred to me when I saw the film.

  • ||

    What about to people who aren't into a bunch of old-timey myths and fairytales?

    I've only seen the stupid Potter films once, and never read the books, but that is still what I would think of.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Oh, Jim, we need to send you away for a classical education.

  • joy||

    the fleeing duo falls in with seven dwarves (several sporting conical Kid ’n Play hair styles); eventually, with the help of Snow’s still-infatuated childhood friend William (Sam Claflin), http://www.riemeninnl.com/riem.....-c-16.html they all make their way back to Ravenna’s castle for an inevitable girl-fight confrontation.

  • booboognu||

    A lot of Hollywood movies these days are written with heavy occult meanings. If you do not know occult/Luciferian beliefs, the movies will not make a lot sense, and will seem like a poorly made PoS. If you understand what these people believe, the movie is actually really good. Not saying I thought the movie was good, but it laid out their beliefs very well and you know what to expect. Each facet of occultism is covered, voodoo, earth worship, Luciferian, witchcraft, satanism, masonry, newage etc.

    I would break it all down, but basically the Queen in how Luciferians believe the Christian God to be, and Snow White is the so-called "Virtuous" Lucifer. They believe if they deny God worship that he will fall.

    I don't believe the stuff, but maybe I perked your attention enough to go see if I am right or wrong.

  • ||

    Where did you get that nonsense?

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