Rupert Sanders’ re-imaging of this famous fairytale is another in the line of fairytale adaptations hitting the big screen recently. Snow White and The Huntsman opens with a neatly shot prologue, proceeded by a narrative most familiar too many: A young Snow White is locked away after her evil step mother, Ravenna, murders her father, the king, and takes his kingdom.
In adolescence Snow White manages to escape the confines of her cell and flee the castle grounds. Ravenna hears from her enchanted mirror, that consuming Snow White’s pure heart is key to eternal youth and beauty. So The Wicked Queen sends a drunken Huntsman played by Thor star Chris Hensworth to retrieve her, but instead, the Huntsman and Snow White team up assisted by a raggedy bunch of dwarfs and a convenient army, to kill Ravenna and claim back Snow White’s kingdom.
Debut-feature director Sanders, more famed for television commercials delivers an exciting edge visually too this film. It features similar sweeping mountainside location shots and elaborate fight scenes reminiscent of those from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Although a feast for eyes, with some amazing CGI, the cinematography made me feel like at times I was watching an episode of television drama Game of Thrones.
This comes as a bit of a disappointment seeing as the cast is full of potential, with the likes of Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, Nick Frost and Ray Winstone playing members of the seven dwarfs. Twilight star Kristen Stewart laid to rest doubts about her abilities as an actress playing the pretty, slightly rebellious lead. But Charlize Theron shone brightest with a powerful performance as The Wicked Queen Ravenna.
Even knowing this film stretches to a run time of 127 minutes we hardly get to spend any screen time with our scruffy dwarfs; who bring the only comic relief to this dark tale, the scenes which did feature the dwarfs achieved the effect of scaling the actor down to size using a quirky technique. Instead of altering the image digitally, the visual effects team simply dug holes for the actors to stand in during scenes or they got the actors to perform on their knees. For long shots they used body doubles wearing synthetic masks of the faces of the actors they were mirroring.
Rupert Sanders has produced a very well directed film at the first time of asking, though ambitious; he has created a very dark and twisted world for this story to unfold in. According to Sanders, Snow White and The Huntsman started life as lighthearted, Shrek-like film. The concept has transformed into this empty and somewhat cold medieval fantasy that is far from any summer comedy hit. If you’re expecting to see a live-action retelling of the Disney animation then you may be shocked at this dark retelling of The Brothers Grimm’s original tale. Rupert Sanders has shown us what he can do and I’m sure there are defiantly better things to come from him in the future, although I can not help feeling like this film is a bit, hit and miss.
Director: Rupert Sanders
Cast: Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, Chris Hensworth, Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, Nick Frost, Ray Winstone, Lily Cole, Toby Jones,
Runtime: 127 mins