Snow White and the Huntsman (2012): The Beautiful and the Bland

I finally resigned myself to watching Snow White and the Huntsman tonight. At the price of £4.59 for an HD download via PS3 store, I thought, ‘Why not?’

Before I go into the who’s who list about the film, I would like to go on record as saying  the movie looked beautiful. The locations, the costumes, the cinematography were top-notch. The effects were outstanding. The digitizing of Ian McShane and Ray Winstone and Nick Frost and company was disturbing and Charlize Theron was, at turns, beautiful, terrifying, mad and captivating.

Chris Hemsworth was brilliant as the huntsman, although I did keep waiting to see if Thor’s hammer was going to appear and make the whole fighting nonsense very one-sided. About the battles…The large ones looks brilliant and the smaller ‘up close’ ones were very well choreographed.

Directed by Rupert Sanders (who is perhaps better known as the chap who was ‘playing away’ with his leading lady, and I don’t mean the real leading lady Charlize Theron) and starring Kristen StewartChris Hemsworth, and Charlize Theron Snow White and the Huntsman is a ‘re-imaging’ of the classic fairy tale Snow White.

In this verse Snow White is not beautiful on the outside (her mother helpfully tells little Snow and us that her true beauty lies within) and that her innocence and love and fairness are what makes her truly beautiful. Then mum dies and dad remarries the worst possible choice ever, Ravenna(Theron). Whilst in the middle of his performing his marital duties, Ravenna dispatches him before he really gets a chance to get started.

Beautiful but so deadly.

Ravenna’s private army (led by her despicable, but faithful, brother) slaughters everyone who cannot escape. Snow White attempts to escape but this is thwarted at the last possible moment. She is then thrown into a prison tower.

As if the punishment of having to grow up isolated in a prison tower were not enough, she is then turned into Kristen Stewart. If ever an actor’s name could be substituted for the word bland, Stewart should head the list of candidates.

Damn you Ravenna!

The film tries very hard to convince us, the audience, that Stewart is a real threat to the beautiful Ravenna. It does keep harping back to the old ‘innocence’ line and how that will be the evil Queen‘s downfall. But despite all the helpful nods to Stewart’s beauty it just doesn’t work.

*in one hilarious moment, Snow White and company enter a fairy glade. All the fronds are dangling dejectedly toward the ground, the moment Snow White enters they all stretch skyward in their happiness. I’ve never seen such a phallic emphasis used to such great inadvertent comic effect.*

But despite the fact that I kept expecting Bella (Sorry, I mean Snow White) to call out for Edward, I never once found Stewart capable of showing that she was this loving, kind and ‘beautiful on the inside’ heroine that the script called for. To be fair though, the script did not call for an awful lot from Ms Stewart. Her lines as Snow White were sparse and, in true Stewart fashion, mumbled.

Everyone else in the film managed to knock their performances out of the park. But actors aside for a moment, the scenes in the Black Forest were to die for. I loved the hallucinogenic spores that were released by the mushrooms. The trees (that were pretty damn scary looking anyway) suddenly seemed terrifying and alive. The whole forest came alive and it looked brilliant.

I did not like the little back story that the script came up with for Ravenna. The old, “Well, she’s not really bad. Her mother only made her this way so she could survive the horrible massacre of her village and family (except for her brother). Rubbish! That’s right, I said it! Rubbish! I want my bigger than life villains to be bad dammit! Not justified!

Charlize Theron (who one critic accused of ‘over acting’ and listen Pally, if she looked like she was overacting, it was probably because of Stewart’s inability to convey anything resembling emotion) who could have been a Bond villain  was so glorious in her badness it was a shame to see her lose at the end.

My daughter looked me in the eye at the end of the film and said, “Is is wrong that I wanted Ravenna to win?” I suppose that because the story was about Snow White the logical answer would be yes. But… But…

If we were not the only ones disappointed at Ravenna’s demise at the end of the film, surely that means either the script should have been more ‘Snow White’ oriented or perhaps Ms Stewart should not have been cast as the heroine of the film.

Of course now the entire world knows of the director’s and his ingenue’s extra-curricular activities and it becomes painfully clear why Kristen Stewart was so cast against type.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s after Thor we go…

I have seen her in other films besides the execrable Twilight series and she always looks the same and acts the same. There is not one ‘Snow White’ bone in her body (and yes I am aware just how wrong that sounds).  The film really does belong to Theron, not Stewart and it really mystifies why on earth she was cast, dalliances with the director not included.

That the movie did well in the area of box office receipts can be verified via IMDb or Wikipedia. I am not surprised, like I said earlier, the film looks fantastic, the vast majority of the cast acted their socks off and apart from the disturbing digitized images of Ian McShane and Co (which outraged the  Little People of America so much that they protested) the effects of the film were top-notch.

Where is Edward?

My final verdict is that it is worth seeing for everyone’s performances except for Ms Stewart’s whose only crime was being mis-cast.


Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

15 thoughts on “Snow White and the Huntsman (2012): The Beautiful and the Bland”

  1. I can’t believe I actually found a review that seems to synchronize (spelling?) with my own.

    The movie was better than I expected and kept my interest up. It entertained me and was well done – for the most part.

    My major misgiving (and unfortunately it’s a big one) was the casting of the gal who played Snow White. She’s a decent actress in her own right – but I think they should have found someone else.

    Casting is a huge deal and that didn’t work for me.


  2. I am a big fan of CGI and have been following it’s development since the early 1970s. I wish it got used in better movies, but there are not nearly enough good movies and a many of them seem to be small budget enterprises that can’t afford upscale technology. This sounds like another movie to see when it shows up on cable. You saved me another chunk of change. Thanks!


    1. The CG was brilliant and the dwarves were disturbing because they had been done so well. It took me ages to figure out that they’d put the actors heads on dwarf bodies. It did actually ‘creep’ me out a little. If you ignore Stewart’s lacklustre performance the film is worth seeing. I believe I would have even paid for cinema tickets and not begrudged it too much. Cheers!


  3. I haven’t seen the film yet, but I agree about the villain backstory thing. I sometimes just want villains to be bad because they’re bad, not because mommy and daddy didn’t treat them right or something. Darth Vader was much better when he was just some bad guy force choking people than when we saw him as a silly little kid and emo teenager.


  4. I found this whole thing to be a little eh and overblown. Too long, not really all that different from the original story (except maybe the backstory), and I didn’t really think anyone was amazing in this except for Charlize.


  5. When I first saw this, I was blown away by how beautifully it was coreographed and designed. The costumes and sets were so much more than I’d expected. I’d agree 100% on the acting. I wanted to love the film, but I definitely felt like Stewart was altogether the WRONG choice. Not once did I believe she was the young woman from the fairy tale. Apparently she’s proved it, too. Lol

    Got to say that I actually enjoyed some of the Ravenna backstory. Sometimes the classic black and white does work best, and particularly for fairy tales. But giving Ravenna a motive, sadly believing that women only possess power in a “man’s” world through their youth and beauty, really helped me to invest in what and why she was doing what she was.

    The biggest plot hole I found was when Ravenna deceived Snow White in the forest by pretending to be the prince. We all know that’s the classic device, more or less, with the Queen gifting Snow with the poisoned apple after disguising herself. However, with this new interpretation, the old device failed to work logically. In the film, the Queen needs Snow’s heart to gain immortality, which is not in the original story at all. Obviously this means that the Queen needs Snow White returned alive, thus she sends her brother and the huntsman to track her down. My argument here is, why poison her with the apple if you need her alive! Especially after going through all the effort of sending your lackies!? Very poor writing decision there, no way around it. It was like the knew they had to include it anyway, just because everyone would expect them to.

    I did however like how the film tried to ‘legiitimize’ the fairy tale with classic mythological additions. The Magic Mirror had Runes written around its frame, directly from Norse Mythology, as was the Troll later on. And the biggest addition was the White Stag in the cheesy fairy forest. The White Stag is from Celtic Mythology, and an important symbol of Life, which is why Snow is connected to it, because she too is representative of Life. Also, it was forbidden in Celtic Myth to ever hunt the White Stag, so when the Queen’s men shoot it with arrows, the symbolism was made complete.

    I agree on the special effects with the Dwarfs, though I felt like their inclusion into the story was a little much. The story felt a bit too big for the time they had to tell it all of it, leaving the Dwarfs with too little character development. And the miserable love triangle at the end set me off. As if the film needed any more of a reason to be reminded of Twilight… Haha Not only did I constantly think of Thor as well, but I was rooting for Ravenna, too! You definitely know something went wrong, whether in the writing, casting, or both, when you’re cheering the villain on! 😀


  6. The scene that best demonstrates the blandness of Miss Stewart for me was when they encounter the white stag. Here we have this beautiful creature and she reacts to it the same way as if she just found the brand of coffee she wanted at the supermarket.


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