If Hollywood’s going to repeat itself so soon, why can’t I? Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all? In the battle over filmmaking supremacy the award definitely does not go to Tarsem Singh’s excrement-filled Mirror Mirror. Thankfully, another studio (Universal Pictures) was working on a much larger scaled version of the Brothers Grimm classic and have decided to transplant the story of Snow White to a Lord of the Rings-style setting, which totally works. While Singh decided to opt for a more kid-friendly storybook approach, Snow White and the Huntsman, a broader epic, brought to us by newcomer Rupert Sanders, is a most welcome alternative.
The story remains pretty much the same, save for some brutal action sequences: Young Snow White’s (Raffey Cassidy) mother dies; her father, King Magnus (Noah Huntley) finds an imprisoned Ravenna (Charlize Theron) in the back of a carriage, falls in love, and, in classic fairy tale fashion, they wed the next day.
Turns out Ravenna has a curse upon her which requires her sucking the youth out of young women to keep up her youthful appearance, when she’s not busy Kali Ma-ing someone’s heart. Ravenna kills King Magnus and takes over the kingdom with the help of her brother, Finn (Sam Spruell). Duke Hammond (Vincent Regan) and his son William (Sam Cliflin), Snow White’s best friend, manage to escape. Now Ravenna rules the dying kingdom while keeping poor now-grown Snow White (Kristen Stewart) in the North Tower.
Eventually Snow White manages to escape and Ravenna orders Finn to find her. The magic mirror on her wall has informed her that Snow White’s heart holds the key to her immortality. Unfortunately, Finn chases Snow White into the dreaded Dark Forest leaving Finn to seek out the help of the only Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) he knows who has ever traveled into the sinister land, to bring Snow White back to Ravenna. Meanwhile, the Huntsman learns who Snow White really is and decides he must help her seek out Duke Hammond, while William (Sam Claflin), has joined Finn’s search party to find Snow White for himself. Everyone is now out for revenge upon Ravenna and Snow White is the only one who can take her down, and not without the help of seven ex-gold mining dwarves in addition to both William and the Huntsman.
Everything is here as it should be. From the seven dwarves (played in miniature forms of Nick Frost, Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, Toby Jones, Ray Winstone, Eddie Marsan, and Johnny Harris), to the poisoned apple, to true love’s kiss breaking Ravenna’s spell. But what would a true Grimm adaptation be without throwing in a bridge troll? There’s also a nice homage to the Disney animated classic. And while Julia Roberts’s evil Queen may find time to smear bird poop on her face, Charlize Theron’s is busy eating the hearts out of them. Ravenna is one mean beast in what is probably the grimmest big screen version of Snow White yet.
Director Sanders has conjured up quite an epic, full of sweeping vistas and a swelling score courtesy of James Newton Howard, leading one sequence to make me ask if this was a prequel to another upcoming prequel (The Hobbit). It should come as no surprise that Oscar-winner Colleen Atwood’s Ravenna costumes nearly steal the show. And while it may have some pacing issues here and there, this Snow White outing is head and shoulders above the last, making Snow White and the Huntsman the Snow White film you don’t want to miss.
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