Does Snow White and The Huntsman redeem Kristen Stewart, or should she be banished to the Dark Forest? Click on the jump to find out!
Snow White and The Huntsman is the second film in 2012 about a rebellious princess and her monstrous stepmother. While Mirror Mirror set a more fanciful tone, Snow White is very much a Grimm fairy tale. It's dark, brooding, violent, and makes the best use of each character's faults and dark corners. In the end, the product is effective and fun to watch, even if it might contain some plot holes big enough to drive a truck through.
After murdering the king on their honeymoon, Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron, Italian Job) imprisons her step-daughter Snow White (Kristen Stewart, Adventureland), plunging the once prosperous kingdom into a dreary world of mangled trees, savage tides, and human suffering. Ravenna is obsessed with her beauty - the witch craves the attention of her golden mirror, all the while consuming bird hearts and sucking the life from younger girls in an attempt to maintain her appearance. When Ravenna orders Snow White's execution after learning her heart is the key to immortality, Snow White escapes into the densely-wooded Dark Forest, representing one of the film's best scenes. Enter Chris Hemsworth (Thor), who's employed by Ravenna to find Snow White, as he is the only person known to have survived in the Forest; in exchange, Ravenna has promised to bring his wife back from dead. But soon, Huntsman begins to suspect Ravenna's lies and instead joins forces with Snow White as she struggles to find her childhood friend and playmate William (Sam Clafin, POTC: On Stranger Tides), build an army, and run Ravenna from power.
Director Rupert Sanders makes his directorial debut, immersing us in world that feels very similar to The Lord of The Rings. He even seems to pay homage to that franchise by utilizing similar-looking locations and quick overhead pass shots as Snow White and her team make their way to Duke Hammond's castle. Sanders also does a good job in allowing his actors time to roam a bit on the canvas without wearing out their welcome. When Snow White meets a band of dwarfs led by Ian McShane (Kung Fu Panda) and Bob Hoskins (Enemy at The Gates), Rupert fills them with just enough lines for us to recognize them without making moviegoers worry about their striking similarities to Hobbits. His directorial eye and knack for molding beautiful but believable scenes appear often in the film, such as the sequence in the magical forest. Although other actors were considered for Snow White, Kristen Stewart somewhat redeems herself from the Twilight malaise, although not entirely. Although Stewart tends to polarize viewers in ways few actors ever have, it's nice to see the chemistry between herself, Hemsworth, and Theron. But there's still some of that whiny Twilight attitude that pops up once in awhile that drives me insane. While debate will no doubt rage about Stewart's performance, Hemsworth's should garner him nothing but praise. He is the real deal, even though Viggo Mortenson and Hugh Jackman were initially offered his role. Theron's acting is as terrific as the beautiful and elaborate costumes she dons, leaving audiences to wonder if Hollywood raided Cher's wardrobe prior to shooting. Composer James Newton Howard (Grand Canyon) marches us to a decidedly darker theme with several good war pieces as our heroes ride into the film's climactic battle.
No film is perfect, but some plot holes near the end prevent me from endorsing a premiere week viewing. Snow White and The Huntsman delivers on many levels, even if it feels like franchises we've seen before.