Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Action,Adventure Snow White and the Huntsman

Snow White and the Huntsman

            We all know the story.  The beautiful but wicked witch stands before the mirror and asks, “Who’s the fairest of them all?”  Then the mirror, reflecting on her beautiful features but ignoring the nasty warts on her soul tells her she is.  “Snow White and the Huntsman” is sort of like that.  Characterization is limited, plot is a little lackadaisical, pacing is a bit torpid, dialogue is so-so… but what a spectacularly beautiful film.  Not a scene goes by without a gasp of appreciation.  The soul of the movie, the inner workings, if you will, are quite humanly flawed.  But the surface is so divinely beautiful that those blemishes are easily overlooked            The story is a variation on the classic fairy tale.  Enchanted by the beautiful witch Ravenna, widowed King Magnus is seduced into marrying her.  But Ravenna is not merely a selfishly vain woman dabbling in witchcraft, she is a malicious monster who actually gets pleasure (and immortality, a la Elisabeth Bathory, the historical basis for the Dracula legend) from literally sucking the life out of people.  Ravenna murders her new husband and seizes the kingdom, imprisoning her stepdaughter, Snow White.  The plucky princess escapes into the insidious Dark Forest, and the evil queen sends the huntsman to bring her back.  But he befriends his quarry and accompanied by some dwarves (eight, not seven), Snow White sets out to link up with rebel forces intent on ousting the usurper and freeing the kingdom from her oppression.            Charlize Theron (“Prometheus”) is the real star of the film as Ravenna.  She vamps across the throne room better than any evil cinematic witch since Margaret Hamilton.  Helped by some terrific make-up and special effects, she may be the most malevolent villain we’ve seen at the movies in years.  The titular Snow White is played by the lovely but vacuous-looking Kristen Stewart (the “Twilight” franchise”), in a role that displays her physicality far better than in her previous films.  Chris Hemsworth (“Thor”) portrays the unnamed Huntsman of the title; a drunken lout wallowing in his own misery, he is transformed by the courage of Snow White into the kind of man he wants to be but has thus far failed to achieve.            Aiding and abetting the Queen is her perniciously perverse brother Finn, played by Sam Spruell (“The Hurt Locker”), a nasty-minded worm emboldened by the immortality conveyed on him by his sister.  Sam Chaflin (“United”) portrays William, the son of the Duke leading the rebel forces, a man (like all others in the film) infatuated with Snow White.             Sadly, the dwarves, the guardians of the forest sanctuary, while expert caricatures, are left under developed by the script.  They are colorfully depicted by Ian McShane (“Pirates of the Caribbean 4”), Bob Hoskins (“Hook”), Ray Winstone (“Hugo”), Nick Frost (“Paul”), Eddie Marsan (“Sherlock Holmes”), Toby Jones (“Ever After”), Johnny Harris (“War Horse”), and Brian Gleeson (“The Eagle”).            Notwithstanding the flamboyant role of Ravenna, none of the parts are written in such a way as to allow for any real development, although everyone seems to be inexplicably attracted to and inspired by Snow White.  So don’t bother with trying to understand why the characters do what they do and just enjoy the visual splendor of this lovely film.  Remember great films of the past as Snow White recreates the 1937 animated film as she struggles to escape the clutches of the Dark Forest; as brightly caparisoned and armored knights charge along the beach a la “El Cid;” as the helmetless “Joan of Arc” leads the attack against the fortified barbican; as the forest sanctuary blooms in welcome to the rightful sovereign as in “Excalibur.”  This is an image-rich film that can be appreciated over and over again.            “Snow White and the Huntsman” needs to be seen on the big screen, so be sure to see this before it leaves town.  Focus on the image, not the heart of the film, and you will be satisfied.

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