Run, Snow, Run
When you run out of interesting stories to tell, just redo the fairy tales of our youth and make them gruesome! That seems to be the theology of Hollywood producers these days. Among Red Riding Hood, Tangled (Rapunzel), Beastly (Beauty & the Beast), Mirror Mirror (Snow White), and Jack Frost (Frosty the Snowman) comes a new Snow White -- Snow White and the Huntsman. This film may entertain certain audiences, but it’s definitely not for children under 13.
In a far-away dark world, an evil new queen Ravella (Charlize Theron) kills her husband so her malicious army can help her take over the kingdom. Ravella may have a beautiful face and be told by her magic mirror that she is the fairest in all in the land, but the ambitious woman has an ugly heart. Even locking away her step-daughter Snow White (Kristen Stewart) in a dungeon hasn’t worked, for the mirror now hints there’s another fairer than the queen.
Ravella has plans to take care of that -- until Snow White escapes during an invasion of the Queen’s troops. Chased by Ravella’s henchmen, Snow White runs into the dark forest where she finds various characters coming to her aid.
One such defender is The Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth). Although facing problems of his own, he’s willing to set them aside in order to guide Snow White to safety, and with his own arsenal – a double-axe rig and a belt that holds his array of knives – The Huntsman is like his own army. Along the way, these two encounter the dark forest where evil creatures lurk, but also the Enchanted Forest, one of the best special effects segments in the film.
Snow White also meets up with William (Sam Claflin), her childhood friend, now a warrior helping to keep what’s left of the King’s kingdom from Ravella’s grasp. At one point in the story, Snow will have to decide if William is her real knight in shining armor.
The film’s cast is credible. Theron (North Country) looks gorgeous as always. I don’t think there could have been a better pick for this role. Even when she’s howling in anger and making things turn into crows, Theron makes Ravella come across as a fierce foe. Hemsworth carries every guarded look he summoned up as Thor in The Avengers to his role here. But there are moments -- like in the village of women who have lost their men -- when his softer side becomes quite visible.
Kristen Stewart may not be as appropriate a choice for this fast-paced actioner as someone like Saoirse Ronan (Hanna), but she displays a tad more punch as Snow White than in her Twlight series. Of course, we can’t have Snow White without the dwarves. Played by normal-sized actors (Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Toby Jones, Eddie Marsan, Johnny Harris and Brian Gleeson) who have been miniaturized by special effects, they are more of a miss than a hit in this film.
The best part of Snow White involves the visuals. First-time director Rupert Sanders, who sharpened his teeth on commercials, succeeds in pulling off incredible feats far beyond more experienced directors. He was excited by “the chance to do something more masculine with the story.”
Director of photography Greig Fraser, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan -- a VFX supervisor and additional 2nd unit director -- and visual effects producer Lynda Thompson are only part of the team that helped make this epic adventure a hold-on-to-your-seat ride.
(Released by Universal Pictures and rated “PG-13” for intense sequences of violence and action, and brief sexuality.)
Review also posted at www.reviewexpress.com.