Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ Review: All Hail Charlize Theron

If the Brothers Grimm were still alive, they’d be making bank. In 1937, Walt Disney introduced the tale of “Snow White” in a cartoon feature film and the story has been a favorite fairy tale ever since. Earlier this year we saw Relativity Media’s Mirror Mirror, starring Julia Roberts and Lily Collins, a light-hearted comic take on the classic tale. Now this summer, Universal Pictures released Snow White and the Huntman starring Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth, a darker, more action-focused take on the beloved story.

This review will not compare the two films at all because they both have spectacular aspects to offer on their own and I think the Grimm Brothers would be proud on how their story has been represented this year.

Snow White and the Huntsman begins with a prologue on how the Evil Queen (the talented and beautiful Charlize Theron) came to reign the kingdom and how Snow White (Kristen Stewart) ended up in the dungeons on the castle. According to the the famous “mirror,” which is visually breathtaking, when Snow reaches her 18th birthday, she will be the fairest in the land and her beauty will overpower the Queen’s. The Queen demands Snow’s heart and when she figures this out, Snow escapes the castle and runs into the dark forest.

The Evil Queen hires a huntsman (Thor’s Chris Hemsworth) to find her and bring her back. It’s only when the Huntsman finds out that Snow is just a girl, he rebels the Queen and he and Snow run from the kingdom.

The pair encounter a band of dwarves (Nick Frost, Ian McShane, Eddie Marsan, to name a few) who end up discovering the Snow is the deceased King’s daughter and persuade her to rise up against the Queen rather than running away.

The true star of the film is Charlize Theron and the movie is made very enjoyable by her wicked performance as the Queen. Even when she didn’t have dialogue, we understand her feelings and I was often amazed at how much her eyes acted for her. Theron has the perfect “mean girl” eyes throughout the film and its amazing to see the Queen transition from young to old as the story progresses.

The first act of SWATH presents an interesting take on the story, is visually stimulating and showcases Theron’s talents beautifully. It’s when the climatic scene happens and we see Stewart take a “Bella-turn” that the film lost me.

I think Kristen Stewart is a fine actress and I am actually a fan of the Twilight films and story. In Stewart’s earlier films like Speak, In the Land of Women and Adventureland, I think she exercises good talent, but now that she is recently retiring from Twilight’s Bella, she struggles with her role as Snow White and it comes off too “Twilight-like.” There is a point in the movie, where Stewart has to act as a leader and deliver, but she never crosses that line and it’s quite frustrating.

We see someone like Jennifer Lawrence, in The Hunger Games, who was absolutely incredible at leading a film, even though she is a young actress. Her presence on-screen as Katniss was flawless, Stewart just never reaches that leading quality that Lawrence possesses.

First time director Rupert Sanders presents us with a visually stunning film that takes gothic style to a new level, while also bringing in the fairy tale elements we long for in a story like this. Costume designer Colleen Atwood (Sleepy Hollow, Dark Shadows) positively adds to the film for her designs of the Queen’s gowns, they are just amazing! It’s just too bad our lead character can’t escape her vampire past.

Fans of K. Stew will absolutely love the film, but the majority will probably think the script is messy, Stewart’s performance weak and the overall picture a bit too long.

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