16 June 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman

We all know the story. An evil queen looks into a magic mirror every day and asks it if she is the most beautiful woman in the world, and one day it says her step-daughter is more beautiful than her. The queen has a hissy rage and orders a Huntsman to kill the girl, but he doesn't. She then runs away into a forest and lives with seven little men before being found and poisoned with an apple. The prince wakes her up and the queen mysteriously disappears. The End.

There have been loads of adaptations of this story, but something about this version had me intrigued. The film flows rather nicely in with the original telling, but there is something much more haunting and fantastical about this version.

The characters are multi-faceted and realistic; something that a lot of adaptations of the fairytale fail to do. Ravenna (Charlize Theron) is the evil queen with destructive powers to match, and though she does want to kill Snow White because of her beauty, there is a lot more riding on it than we first suspect. Her powers weaken as Snow White becomes more beautiful - a side affect of a piece of magic from Ravenna's youth. Snow White (Kristen Stewart) is a much more ballsy (can I say that?) character than her insipid Disney counterpart. She even rescues herself. And she has excellent reasons for being terrified of the forest: it is really, really creepy and has a rather nasty defence mechanism. Oh, and the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) comes complete with his own history and motives.

The second thing that is exceptional about this film is the effects and the overall look of the film. The costumes are exquisite and perfect for what seems to be a medieval time frame with a modern twist. The landscapes are flawless, right down to the trees in the forest and battlements of the castle. But the effects... Ravens turning into queens, apples rotting away, hands melting, fairies and rather well known actors playing dwarves. It is a feast for the eyes.

The acting was excellent, but I think I was most impressed by Sharlize Theron, whose depiction of the easily angered queen was both convincing and a little scary. I love the way that she also made her more human. We can see that she fears for her life and that she still wants revenge for her past. The dwarves were amusing and interesting at the same time. They were acted well and even they weren't one-dimensional.

One or two things bothered me, though. Firstly, I didn't think Kristen Stewart suited the role too well. Snow White was being described as life and as a thing of beauty (more beautiful than Charlize Theron, who is stunning in my opinion) that everyone would follow. While she is a very pretty girl and her acting has certainly improved, I feel that she didn't quite fit with what they said about her. Another thing is the Prince-like character, William. I really didn't think that the story really needed him at all. He was only used for a couple of things that could have easily been changed slightly so he wasn't in them.

Despite that, I think that Snow White and the Huntsman is an excellent film, and I will definitely be buying it when it comes out on DVD. So I'll give it a 9 out of 10.