In case you didn’t noticed after the trailer and advertising campaign, the Snow White of vintage Disney is gone. Instead, director Rupert Sanders now offers us a compelling new spin on the old fairy tale in Snow White and the Huntsman. This time, the wicked queen seduces and kills Snow White’s father as part of the backstory; there’s a love triangle between Snow White, the huntsman, and the prince; Snow White dons armor and leads an army against the queen; and, in a deliberate step away from campiness, the dwarves don’t have adjectives for names.
On the surface, Huntsman wasn’t a half-bad concept. It had many of the pieces for a good film: lots of action, a seductive villain, a solid cast (well, minus Kristen Stewart), and an entire fantasy world to create. Unfortunately, however, the execution is sorely lacking. This is a fantasy film that can’t decide whether it wants to be a fairy tale, an epic, or an allegory, and as a result it never quite manages to do well as any of them. It lacks the history and grand scale of Lord of the Rings or Braveheart, the charm of a Disney princess film, or the profound theological underpinnings of Narnia. It mixes worlds: Snow White recites the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of the film, but she soon finds herself confronting trolls and exploring a magical forest full of musical plants and shape-shifting fairies. The queen has all sorts of supernatural powers that are never explained aside from a spell cast on her at childhood. Granted, those are pretty high standards by which to measure a film, yet Huntsman falls so woefully short in each of those categories that it sinks into the easily-forgotten “flick” category. Continue reading →