The fairytale is back in a big way. Hollywood has raided Mother Hubbard’s cupboard because a pot of gold is waiting to be made by re-branding popular fairytales for modern audiences.
We’ve already had the Snow White adaptation Mirror Mirror, a kooky kid’s comedy starring Julia Roberts as the evil queen. And Disney-Pixar’s latest animation, Brave, is a fairytale about a feisty young Scottish lass.
Now we have another Snow White adaptation, Snow White and the Huntsman, and it’s based on one of the original fairytales written by The Brothers Grimm, the German pair behind many gothic fairytales that have been Disney-fied into charming animated films over the years.
This is a much darker, grittier, gothic version of the story, and it has a real medieval tone, with metal armour, chainmail, broad swords and armies on horses. There’s elements of Gladiator, Braveheart and even Lord of the Rings here. Yet the story is pure Snow White.
After her mother dies and her father marries the evil queen (Charlize Theron), Snow White (Kristen Stewart) is locked up in a tower until she comes of age. The queen, who sucks people’s souls in order to stay young, knows from her trusty mirror mirror on the wall that Snow is the fairest one of all.
In fact, the mirror tells her she’ll have immortality if she consumes Snow’s heart. Yum! Alas, Snow escapes to the Black Forrest, where the queen has no powers. So the queen orders a fierce huntsman (Aussie Chris Hemsworth) into tracking her down and bringing her back.
Snow White and the Huntsman looks as impressive as Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter despite plenty of CG imagery of castles, forests, mythical creatures and magic spells.
But it’s longer than Pinocchio’s nose, it moves at the pace of Red Riding Hood’s granny and takes about 25 minutes to reveal its plot. It also uses that old voice-over narration trick for background info because the script is not strong enough to tell the story on its own.
Most of all, Kristen Stewart is the bad apple here. Yes, she’s beautiful, but she barely speaks, and instead does a lot of physical acting. Lots of wistful looks, longing and pouting. There is almost no difference between her Twilight character and it really distracts you from the film. I was waiting for vampires and werewolves to jump out at any moment.
But it’s not a complete loss either.
There’s plenty of eye candy, from Stewart (she is beautiful) to Hemsworth (aka Thor) to the battle scenes with swords, axes and bow and arrows. There’s fairies and trolls and — yes — seven swashbuckling dwarfs, while the costumes, make-up, art decoration and set decoration is as good as you’ll see despite being so CG heavy.
It’s just a pity the story is so drawn out with love interests, love rivals, and a village of scarred women. It takes a long time to get to the obvious conclusion.
Theron steals it as the evil queen, playing her as a truly evil, power-hungry, man-hating queen who’s not above killing kings and eating snow white’s heart. Only Theron or perhaps Angelina Jolie could play this role, and coincidentally, Jolie will play her in Maleficent; yet another Snow White movie on the way but one seen through the queen’s eyes.
This Snow White is not nearly one of the better fairytale movies, but it is a sumptuous feast for the eyes and ears.
SCORE: 6 out of 10