Film Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

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 →