I’ve never been a big fan of ‘Once upon a time’. I guess it’s because I always thought the underlying plots, the heroes and villains and the morals were good but they’d make really bad movies.
I’m delighted to say on this occasion, Universal Pictures proved me wrong. A new genre is opening up after the success of ‘Red Riding Hood’, with ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ the latest fairy-tale inspired action epic (I hereby name this genre ‘fairy epics’) to hit the screens, with a deluge set to come in the form of films like Jack The Giant Killer and Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters. Looks like storytime’s about to get a whole lot more interesting.
To the plot then, where poor orphaned Snow White is left languishing in a dungeon following evil Ravenna’s murdering her way to the throne. Upon the authority of the magic mirror, Ravenna and her henchman/brother (played by The Hurt Locker’s Sam Spruell) need to kill Snow White in order that Ravenna remain ‘the fairest of them all’. This all seems fairly straightforward when she’s safely locked in a dungeon however, this feisty determined Snow White (brought to us by Kristen Stewart) manages to escape the grips of her captors.
This then develops into an all-guns-blazing action adventure including Chris Hemsworth (yes I know ladies), as the damaged and mysterious huntsman, eight (yes eight) dwarves and a nail-biting battle to rid the land of the much despised Queen.
It’s like Game of Thrones: the movie. In saying this we couldn’t expect anything less from former chairman of 20th Century Fox and Walt Disney Joe Roth who was the billion dollar blockbuster producer of ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Also, this must be a dream come true for director and state-of-the-art visualist Rupert Sanders for whom this was his feature film debut. The SFX on this film are stunning and with the limited use of green screen the fight for ‘the real experience’ is very much evident in the battle scenes and Ravenna’s demonstrations of dark magic where the twist of modernity is taken to a whole new level.
This movie sees Hollywood A-lister Charlize Theron versus up and coming teen mascot Kristen Stewart. Once again, Stewart finds herself caught between two men: childhood friend William (played by Pirates of the Caribbean’s Sam Claflin) and Hemsworths’s The Huntsman. Sound a little bit like Twilight?
Actually Stewart does well to shake off her Twilight origins and brings a new edge to a well-worn character. It does appear though that she runs, she makes the battle speech and she pulls all the right faces but there’s something a little bit missing from her performance. An admirable effort though especially when faced with the dramatic powerhouse that is Theron who provides the best interpretation of a kid’s story villain since Glenn Close’s turn as Cruella De Vil.
As for the others, there’s more room for development from Hemsworth’s mysterious Huntsman potentially hinting a follow-up and the dwarves bring the breaks of comedic relief from the drama with lines like: Dwarf 1: ‘How much have you had to drink?’ Dwarf 2: ‘No it was the mushrooms.’
Overall a good solid film for Stewart to start venturing into the realms of more mature cinema. This is going to be a tough act to follow for the rest of the fairy epics to come. With a cast and production team like this, it may just be unbeatable.