Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Snow White and the Huntsman Review: A Fairy Tale Super-Sized
With Hollywood's recent inclination toward remakes and re-imaginings, it should surprise no one that classic fairy tales would be due for a makeover. Take Snow White for example: In 2011 and 2012 alone, this tale has already been re-imagined as a TV show (Once Upon a Time) and a feature-length adventure-comedy (Mirror, Mirror). With Snow White and the Huntsman, Snow White gets upgraded from a simple fairy tale to a grandiose sword-and-sorcery epic, and the end result is much better than you'd expect it to be.
I'm usually not into the sword-and-sorcery subgenre of fantasy films, unless the film features lots of monsters and/or it includes the work of a legendary special effects artist such as Ray Harryhausen. Nevertheless, Snow White and the Huntsman is an entertaining fantasy epic, with a large cast of characters, great special effects, and scenic cinematography. Of course, this movie wears the influences of the recent Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter movies on its selves, which actually helps the movie in spite of how obvious the influence is. For example, when one of the major villains dies, it happens in such an explosively convulsive manner that the word "horcrux" immediately sprang to mind. (Go watch the movie and you'll see what I mean.)
One of the more intriguing aspects of the movie is how it inserts elements from the more traditional telling of the Snow White fairy tale into the rescaled story. Familiar plot elements such as the poisoned apple, the seven dwarfs, and the shape-shifting evil queen are all in Snow White and the Huntsman, but they inserted in creative ways that give the movie its own distinction among other Snow White adaptations. (Then again, I couldn't help but to think of Mel Brooks' 15 Commandments joke from History of the World: Part 1 when the movie arrives and the, er, proper number of dwarfs.)
For as enjoyable this re-imagined Snow White movie is, Charlize Theron's portrayal of the evil Queen Ravenna really stands out among everything else. Not only does Theron play the role with the right amounts of cunning, arrogance and resentment, but the script gives the Ravenna character a more substantial background than most of the evil queens in other Snow White adaptations. While it's not completely explained, Ravenna appears to have been around for quite a while before the events in the movie and that she's harbors a seething, unspecified grudge that goes far, far beyond losing the title of the most fairest of them all.
If you think that this summer's line of blockbusters is lacking in the sword-and-sorcery area, go see Snow White and the Huntsman. It's fun in its own right, and it'll tide you over until The Hobbit arrives in December.