Snow White and the Huntsman: Movie review

By | June 6, 2012 | Entertainment

Snow White and the Huntsman: Movie review
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Reel rating: 4 out of 5 Reels

MPAA rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and brief sensuality

Released in theaters: June 1, 2012 (2D, 3D)

Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

Runtime: 127 minutes

Directed by: Rupert Sanders

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Sam Claflin, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Toby Jones

Official site:  http://www.snowwhiteandthehuntsman.com/

Synopsis:  This new version of the classic fairytale finds Kristen Stewart playing the beautiful princess and Chris Hemsworth as the handsome huntsman. The evil Queen Ravenna orders the huntsman to kill Snow, but instead, he becomes her protector and mentor as she fights to take back the throne.

Sex/nudity: The queen wears form-fitting gowns, and several scenes show her nude back, including one where she descends into a milk bath. On their wedding night, the king and queen are shown in bed, with him on top of her, kissing and caressing her until things take a violent turn. It’s clear that both William and the huntsman have eyes for Snow White. She gets a couple of kisses, and a dwarf has a crush on her.

Violence/gore: This fairytale isn’t for kids. It’s dark and violent, with a high body count and scenes of Snow White being chased through a grim forest. The queen is beyond evil – she’s sadistic and tortures people by sucking the youth out of them so she can remain young. One scene shows a room full of bodies who’ve succumbed to her wrath. She eats the organs of birds and animals, and in one gross scene, she plucks a bloody bird’s heart out and eats it. She savagely stabs the king and kills others using mind control. The queen’s brother admits to staring at Snow White and approaches her as if to rape her, but she fights him and escapes from her prison room. A gruesome battle is said to have murdered everyone in the castle. Battle scenes include axes, swords, arrows, and fighting. During stylized fight scenes, the humans break apart like shards of metal. The forest is dark and full of frightening creatures, including a giant troll who tries to kill a main character. A poisoned apple nearly kills Snow White, who writhes on the ground in agony. A couple of secondary characters die, and it appears that a main character has died. A village of females and children is attacked by the queen’s army.

Profanity: “Hell,” “damn,” and “stupid.” The queen treats her brother and minions like slaves.

Drugs/alcohol: Adults drink and get drunk, including the huntsman and dwarves. A dwarf says he feels “lovely” after eating mushrooms in the forest.

Which kids will like it? Kids 14 and older who like Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, or dark fantasy movies heavy on the special effects.

Will parents like it? This film is well done, but too frightening for kids younger than 14.

Review: “Are there no fairytales for kids anymore?” That’s the question my husband asked when I told him that Snow White and the Huntsman is a dark take on the classic story most commonly attributed to the Brothers Grimm (though it has origins throughout Europe).

I have to agree that the fairytales coming out of Hollywood lately are, well, grim. There’s this movie, for one. Also Mirror Mirror (admittedly a more comedic version of the tale), NBC’s Grimm and ABC’s Once Upon a Time – all geared for grownups.

Upcoming in 2013, we’ve got Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Killer, two Beauty and the Beast shows in the works, two Sleeping Beauty movies (Maleficent starring Angelina Jolie and Sleeping Beauty with Hailee Steinfeld), and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton. Clearly, whoever isn’t adapting a fairytale for the screen didn’t get the memo.

But it’s no secret that most classic fairytales are anything but lighthearted. The original Snow White involved not only a poisoned apple and homicidal queen, but also a glass coffin encasing the lovely princess. If that doesn’t frighten kids out of their minds, I don’t know what will.

Snow White and the Huntsman actually follows the original story fairly well. Kristen Stewart plays the pure and lovely Snow White, and while the Twilight actress doesn’t always get high marks from critics, I think she does an ok job with the role. When her mother the queen dies, young Snow (Raffey Cassidy) is imprisoned by the evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron), who seduces, marries and then murders the king.

Queen Ravenna is evil and sadistic. She plucks the organs from bloody birds and animals and eats them. She tortures people and sucks the life out of them so that she can remain young and beautiful. In short, she’s a piece of work, and Theron sinks her hefty acting chops into this role with glee.

When the magic mirror (Christopher Obi) tells the queen that Snow White will soon be “Fairest of Them All,” she goes ballistic and sends her dimwitted brother (Sam Spruell) to kill the princess, who manages to escape into the dark forest. Ravenna then orders a handsome huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to capture Snow White, but he can’t do it, and the two end up joining forces and embarking on a journey that leads to her beloved childhood friend William (Sam Claflin) and seven fierce dwarves, played by veteran character actors like Ian McShane, Ray Stevenson, Nick Frost and Bob Hoskins.

The ultimate goal is to defeat the queen’s evil reign,but director Rupert Sanders could have capitalized on the female warrior theme a little more. We really only get a brief scene of the huntsman showing Snow how to fight (though she does save him at one point), but at the end of the movie, suddenly she and the kingdom’s displaced citizens are expert fighters, ready to take on the queen’s army with skillful expertise.

On the plus side, the cinematography and landscapes are both lush and horribly grim. When Snow escapes into the forest, it’s dark and scary and dirty. But the dwarves take her to a lovely area filled with fairies and mythical creatures, with which she has an instant connection. She’s Snow White, after all.

And surely the costumes, designed by Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood, will win a few statues during awards season. They range from the dwarves’ charming wardrobe to Ravenna’s elaborate gowns, including a feathery frock that turns into a flock of crows.

While the story lags here and there, the characters, scenery, costumes, forest creatures, special effects and veteran actors help to keep things moving along. I love that so many films this year, including Brave and The Hunger Games, are based on strong female characters. And while there’s a bit of a love triangle in Snow White and the Huntsman, it’s not neatly wrapped up at the end. I guess they’re saving that for the sequel, already in the works.

Jane’s “Reel” rating system:

One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender .
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.

Have you seen Snow White and the Huntsman? What did you think of it?

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Jane Boursaw

Jane Boursaw is a family entertainment writer specializing in movies and TV. Visit her at Reel Life with Jane; follow her on Twitter; become a friend on Facebook; and email jboursaw@charter.net.

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