Can a movie survive on aesthetics alone? Snow White and the Huntsman had stunning visuals, incredible set pieces, and amazing costumes, but its moments of greatness were far outshined by a weak script and weak performances.
The most suspect part of the film throughout its production had been the casting of Kristen Stewart. She’ll always be known as Bella Swan (from The Twilight Saga) and her turn as the beautiful beacon of hope that is Snow White does not do much to sway that. She’s still that girl in an awkward love triangle that’s poorly fleshed out – just this time she’s got a British accent. Her transition from meek captive at the start of the film to the speechifying fighter at the end feels unearned since moments of importance were glossed over or barely mentioned at all. How does she become this fighter? We never fully understand her growth.
Chris Hemsworth as the titular Huntsman shows that Hemsworth can handle anything thrown at him. Bravado and manliness abounds, but once again major moments are quickly brushed under the rug so we never truly feel the chemistry between him and Ms. White. Frankly, the script should have thrown more his way to make this triangle work. William, played by Sam Claflin, gets even less to do making the whole internal struggle of who she’ll pick in the end completely uninteresting.
The only character that gets some real meat is the Evil Queen Revena. Played to the hilt by Charlize Theron, this is truly her movie. Clad in incredible costumes, not only does she look the part as the gorgeous and enticing Queen, she effuses evil, power, and even flashes of vulnerability. Theron gives her all in this performance, sometimes toeing the line on too much but with the aesthetic and mood of the film, it works. If anything, it’s the director’s desire to constantly show off Theron’s beauty, her wicked ways, and her magical prowess that cause the rest of the film to fall short.
Many themes are touched upon, like feminism, the cost of beauty, the power of purity, the thought of which sex really controls and manipulates the other more, and more. There’s enough there for film students to dissect and project upon, but for general viewing for entertainment’s sake it’s frustrating. There are flashes of brilliance and beauty, but it’s the film’s lack of thematic focus that leaves viewers unsatisfied.
The flashes of brilliance are predominantly the set pieces and visuals. The fairy sanctuary in particular was fantastical and full of magic – a true stand out. Every pixel in the frame, every inch of the scenery was filled to the brim with faeries, nymphs, and magical nature. The dark forest and its nefarious hallucinogenic spores create arresting visuals as well. It’s the strength of these scenes that give me hope that this first time director, Rupert Sanders, could be someone to watch in the coming years. His video game backround certainly gives him an even hand when dealing with action and fantasy, it’s mainly the script here that prevents the film from truly soaring.
Blu-ray and DVD Bonus Features:
- A New Legend Is Born
- Feature Commentary with director Rupert Sanders, visual effects supervisor Cedric Nicolas-Troyan and co-editor Neil Smith
Bonus Features Exclusive to the Blu-ray
- Reinventing the Fairy Tale
- Citizens of the Kingdom
- The Magic Of “Snow White and the Huntsman”
- Around the Kingdom: 360° Set Tour