Snow White and the Huntsman sees the young put-upon princess of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale turn from damsel in distress for a kick-ass action-movie heroine for a fantasy adventure that is, surprisingly, both glossy and gritty.
Played by Twilight star Kristen Stewart, the film’s Snow White is no passive victim. Locked up by Charlize Theron’s evil queen Ravenna, she stages a plucky escape and flees to the Dark Forest. Ruthless Ravenna dispatches Chris Hemsworth’s grief-stricken, drink-sodden widowed huntsman in pursuit, but he has a change of heart and throws in his lot with her, as do the tale’s dwarfs (eight of them, confusingly), for a rip-roaring assault on the queen’s castle.
First-time film director Rupert Sanders made his mark as an ad man and so it’s hardly a surprise that he should be good with images and less sure-footed with actors. Stewart, almost as glum here as in the Twilight films, doesn’t strike romantic sparks with Hemsworth’s hero, nor with Sam Claflin’s aristocratic childhood friend, the third point in the story’s would-be love triangle – though she clearly struck sparks with her director as was proved by their scandalous off-screen dalliance.
The dwarfs, played by a clutch of digitally-shrunken British thesps, including Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, Nick Frost and Eddie Marsan, make some half-hearted stabs at comic relief but aren’t particularly funny. Theron, looking fabulous in Colleen Atwood’s gorgeous costumes, fortunately makes a much bigger impression. As a tortured soul for whom beauty is power, she pulls out all the stops, but Sanders doesn’t know when to rein her in and some of her scenes tip over into ranting. Still, the scenes where she transforms into a burst of ravens or emerges from a sticky, tar-like puddle on the floor are stunning and spooky.
Released on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Download by Universal Studios on Monday 1st October.
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