Title: Snow White and the Huntsman
Director: Rupert Sanders
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron
Godfrey's Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Rating: PG -- I would personally rate it more PG-13 or 14A myself, owing to some of the storyline surrounding the queen and adult themes there, but otherwise there's very little profanity, and the violence is not gruesome. There's a few parts I skipped to allow the whole Swords and Space crew to view.
Summary in a Sentence: A surprisingly good new take on the well-known "Snow White" fairy tale that features a good and pure Snow White, aided by the Hunstman, at war with the evil Queen Ravenna.
Yet further confirmation that if the critics dislike it, I will like it. I went into it this film when it was in the cinema with very low expectations after seeing the trailer. As one friend at the time pointed out, the trailer makes it appear to be yet another "grimdark" adult fantasy film with a large dose of Xena Warrior Princess. In my view, however, the trailer is in fact very misleading in how it portrays the film and it was nothing of the sort. First, a quick synopsis:
In a twist to the fairy tale, the Huntsman ordered to take Snow White into the woods to be killed winds up becoming her protector in a quest to vanquish the Evil Queen.
Now, first to the "darkness" -- I didn't find the film to be all that dark. I didn't find it really any darker than the Lord of the Rings films. Certainly, there are a lot of dark, occult, and black magic elements surrounding the evil queen Ravenna, but this is proper. A dark fantasy, like the ever popular "Game of Thrones", lacks the good that opposes such evil. Snow White does have that good, not just in the person of Snow White, but we even see the realm of the opponents of the Queen which is not blackened and blighted as her realm is. There are faeries, and the Seven Dwarves (who I thought were great). There was a clear battle of good versus evil.
The film was refreshingly non-feminist, and even to the contrary had a good grasp on traditional "roles" and displayed them well. Contrary to what the trailer suggests, Snow White is not a warrior-woman, and only appears in armour at the end of the film for her own protection. She does not lead the men into battle, but is protected by them, serving as more of a Joan of Arc inspirational sort of role.
In a way, this film was like the "anti-Hunger Games":
- Both films feature young ladies as the main protagonists. Katniss Everdine it is the adoption of male virtues and cynical, self-preserving gender-bending pugilism that wins the day. Whereas Snow White is victorious via her feminine virtues of kindness, gentleness, and empathy coupled with a strong spirit of self-sacrifice.
- The Hunger Games features not only a post-Christian but a completely non-religious society where no character has a shred of Christian virtue. This is not the case at all in Snow White, where there is overt religion (Snow White's praying of the Our Father in one of the opening scenes, the presence of Gothic cathedrals and Caltholic-looking clergy) but more importantly a sense of a certain morality and honour beyond mere self-preservation. Although there were a lot of missed opportunities in this regard and there was no follow-through, the world presented was a much more realistic one.
- Although Snow White is a young adult, in appearance and behaviour of a similar age to Katniss, there is no "adults = evil, youth = good" at play in this film; there is a good mix of adults on both sides.
- Hope: although much of Snow White has an appropriate amount of tension and foreboding, in the end it has a happy ending and throughout the film there is that sense of hope that good can be restored. In the Hunger Games, there is no hope, just liberal despair.
In terms of technical aspects, the film was certainly adequate to the task, although it was no masterpiece of filmmaking. The sets were good, the costumes credible. The acting was on the whole pretty decent. All was solidly "good" if not anything spectacular. The soundtrack was appropriate and did a good job of setting the tone.
So, on the whole, not a masterpiece or a classic, but a good, solid fantasy film that I rather enjoyed. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I like it