Snow White and the Huntsman is part – and in some ways a culmination – of the worst instincts of big budgets Hollywood fantasies. It tries to combine the appeal of the Lord of the Rings films with a known property, Campbellian archetypes and a more dark and serious take on fantasy material. It’s garbage, easily one of the worst films of 2012. Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron lead the cast in this botched adaptation of the children’s classic. Our review of the film on Blu-ray follows after the jump.
The film opens by explaining how the evil queen came to power. Snow White’s mom died and so her father goes to battle and finds a pretty lady named Ravenna (Theron) who he weds. She’s a witch, so she kills him on their wedding night and takes over the kingdom, and locks up Snow White for her childhood. Cut to a decade later and Snow White (Stewart) is a lady. Ravenna talks to her mirror and is told that Snow is the only thing standing in her way in the future, but just then Miss White escapes and goes into the black forrest. The queen has no powers there, so she hires a Huntsman (Hemsworth) to go after Ms. White. Eventually they meet the dwarves (which include Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, Toby Jones, Bob Hoskins and Nick Frost), but here it’s all about destiny, so Snow is the chosen one who can lead her people into battle against the queen and the only one who can win.
Director Rupert Sanders seems to have drawn inspiration from the last twelve years of Ridley Scott films (I can’t believe they have a hand drifting across wheat in the film) but at the end of the day it has none of the poetry (bad though it may be) of Scott’s Legend. That was a storybook come to life, this has no fantasy in its fantasy. Yes, there are mythical creatures, but they all have the sheen of CGI and no poetry. Stewart is her usual glum self, but it’s not her fault.
Ultimately, who is this for, and who wants this? I like my fantasy films to be fun and playful and maybe even a little winking, or straightforward as it’s about very simple ideas. The good and evil of those stories are black and white, and it’s that way here too, but treating this as a serious tale then points out the fact that there’s nothing going on beneath the surface except Star Wars dressed up in Snow White’s clothing. Hemsworth’s character is clearly modeled on Han Solo, but then also the major story beats from the original tale. So yes, Snow White bites an apple and goes into a coma.
It all leads to a lot of empty spectacle. Removed from the rules of fantasy, you’re left wondering about the Queen’s rule, and her twenty lifetimes and what she really wants, and by blowing out the story and trying to give character motivations, it points out that the queen is just evil. And that would be fine if the film embraced that, but it refuses to. This is garbage, because it’s too serious to fun for children, and the seriousness works against what makes the story appealing in the first place. Just bad.
Universal’s Blu-ray comes with the film on Blu-ray, DVD and with a digital copy. The film is presented in widescreen (2.35:1) and in DTS 7.1 HD Master Audio in both the theatrical cut (127 min.) and the extended version (132 min.). the film comes with a commentary by director Rupert Sanders, visual Effects Supervisor Cedric Nicolas-Troyan and co-editor Neil Smith, and there’s a U-control with has EPK interview intercut with the film. There are also a number of featurettes: “A New Legend is Born” (21 min.) and ‘Reinventing the Fairytale” (6 min.) walks through the making of the film. “Citizens of the Kingdom” offers four featurettes that give focus to Snow White (6 min.) the Queen (6 min.) The Huntsman (5 min.) and the Dwarves (7 min.). It’s followed by “The Magic of Snow White and the Huntsman” (13 min.) which goes into the effects, and then “Around the Kingdom” Which offer a 360 degree look at the kingdom set as an interactive feature with commentary from the director.