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The Independent Critic

Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Viggo Mortensen, Felicity Jones
Rupert Sanders
Evan Daugherty
Rated PG-13
127 Mins.
Universal Pictures

  • A New Legend Is Born
  • Feature Commentary with director Rupert Sanders, visual effects supervisor Cedric Nicolas-Troyan and co-editor Neil Smith

 "Snow White and the Huntsman" Review 
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We've already known for quite some time that 2012 would bring us to incarnations of the tale of Snow White, the lighter and more humorous Mirror Mirror and this tale, Snow White and the Huntsman, a darker and more adventurous re-imagining of the Snow White tale. When such a thing happened to the tale of In Cold Blood Truman Capote in the form of the dueling films Capote and Infamous, the first one out of the gate, Capote, was the hands down winner both in terms of awards and box-office.

Things should be different this time around.

While Mirror Mirror had the Oscar cred of Julia Roberts, the simple truth is that the vast majority of America found the film less than magical and just plain lacking. The film didn't exactly tank, but $62 million in receipts is a disappointment when your film cost $85 million to make.

It'll be interesting to see how audiences take to Snow White and the Huntsman, though casting Kristen Stewart in the lead should minimally lead to decent opening weekend receipts with her Twilight fanboys and girls likely going through withdrawal right about now. This film also features solid Oscar cred in the presence of Charlize Theron, who makes one seriously bad ass wicked stepmother, and muscleman Chris Hemsworth is here as the huntsman.

It has been impossible to not notice that some are already picking on the casting of Stewart, whose screen image isn't exactly magical and who,at first thought, seems a tad too old to take on the role of the Snow White that most who remember the fairy tale have in their mind.

Let it go.

Stewart may not have the stuff of Disney princesses past, but she's fine if a tad out-shined by Theron's truly electric performance. This simply isn't a Disney-ified version of the Snow White tale, instead this Snow White is a young woman weaving together visions of the princess with the soul of a medieval adventurer relentlessly fighting for all that is good and right and, well, just plain fun to watch on the big screen. Stewart certainly won't be winning any awards for her performance here, but she certainly lays claim to a post-Twilight career in fine fashion. We've always known that Stewart could act, perhaps not with great emotional variance, but definitely with emotion and conviction. It's doubtful that her performance here will have Hollywood suddenly casting her in a series of adventure flicks, but Stewart puts on full display an energetic, inspired and satisfying performance.

But, in reality, the film truly is stolen by Charlize Theron as the dark and dastardly stepmother that Julia Roberts only hinted at in Mirror Mirror. Roberts only hinted at the idea of a truly evil stepmother, serving up a more tongue-in-cheek performance that fit the tone of her film nicely but seemed a tad reserved and yet cartoonish. Theron seems to "get" her character completely, turning even the most ludicrously written lines into eloquent masterpieces that leave you tingling as she spews them. There's a hint of camp, but the performance itself is never campy. Instead, Theron's performance is simply a broad performance that is deliciously dark without going over the edge.

Again, Theron simply "gets it" and nails the tone almost perfectly.

It was a tad distracting and unnecessary for director Rupert Sanders to cast well known Brits as the eight dwarfs (Yes, there's initially eight until one meets an untimely demise) rather than casting some of Hollywood's quite able dwarf actors. Instead, we get the likes of Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane and Ray Winstone among others. Anyone familiar with the actors will be a tad taken aback, while others will simply wonder "Why bother?"

The arc of the story is familiar, with Snow White starting out as a young girl (played by Raffey Cassidy) whose father is the King. When Ravella (Theron) marries the king and kills him on their wedding night, Snow White is locked away in the North Tower for years until she finally escapes into the dark forest to be followed by, you guessed it, The Huntsman.

First-time director Sanders manages to create the world most of us expected Mirror Mirror's Tarsem to create, a world simultaneously magical and frightening and completely and utterly awesome.

Hemsworth gives a low-key (Get it? Loki?) performance as the huntsman with a traumatic past, the actor proving once again that, just perhaps, there may be at least a hint of life beyond his muscle-bound roles. Sam Claflin is here as Snow White's potential love interest, though their sparks are even less than those between Bella and a certain werewolf.

Snow White and the Huntsman isn't a brilliant film, and Evan Daugherty's dialogue is at times over-the-top campy and just plain awkward. However, the film fills a void by serving up a darker fairy tale amongst Hollywood's currently lighter, more cartoon-flavored action flicks. Snow White and the Huntsman may not hit a home run, but it should still score at the box-office.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic