x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Snow White and the Huntsman: great visuals that lack narrative punch

This dark update of the classic tale, starring Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron and The Avengers' Chris Hemsworth, is missing a sense of fun.

Kristen Stewart as Snow White in the action-adventure Snow White and the Huntsman.
Kristen Stewart as Snow White in the action-adventure Snow White and the Huntsman.

Snow White and the Huntsman
Director: Rupert Sanders
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth and Sam Claflin

Hot on the heels of Tarsem Singh's Mirror Mirror is yet another film inspired by Snow White. The first-time director Sanders made his name cutting trailers for computer games and his adaptation of this famous Brothers Grimm fairy tale reflects that. It's great on visuals but lacks narrative punch. It's like Tim Burton on one of his so-so days. Even the costume designer Colleen Atwood is a long-time Burton collaborator.

Going gung-ho for the same audience that made Twilight such a stellar franchise, it's no surprise that Stewart has been cast as Snow White. The stylistic influences also extend to The Lord of the Rings and the emphasis on the action often makes this feel more like a medieval fantasy role-playing game than a fairy-tale adventure. The prologue sets us up for the story: the wicked queen (Theron, the best thing in this venture) dupes the widowed king of England into marrying her and literally brings out the knives on the wedding night. In charge of the kingdom, her first act is to put his daughter in the dungeon.

One day, the magic mirror informs the queen that Snow White has matured into the fairest of them all and her fit of fury is quelled somewhat when she is told she can have eternal youth if she eats the heart of her stepdaughter. She hires a huntsman (Hemsworth) to do the job, which backfires when he takes pity on Snow White. While the huntsman raises some smiles, the lacklustre prince (Claflin) seems pointless. It takes too long for the seven dwarfs to enter the fray but the wait is worth it to see Ray Winstone and Bob Hoskins miniaturised.

Yet despite all its verve, this dark updating of the Snow White legend lacks a sufficient dose of fun. It's no Walt Disney cartoon.