out of Five
Running time: 127
Despite some stunning effects work, this is a disappointing and frequently dull fairy tale adaptation that flounders thanks to dodgy performances, leaden dialogue and a crucial lack of both humour and action.
What's it all about?
Directed by Rupert Sanders, Snow White and the Huntsman stars Kristen Stewart as Snow White, who's imprisoned by her wicked queen step-mother Ravenna (Charlize Theron) after she murders the king on their wedding night. However, Snow escapes into the enchanted forest, causing Ravenna to send her snivelling brother Finn (Sam Spruell) after her, accompanied by an unnamed Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), tasked with tracking her down.
Informed by her magic mirror that Snow White will one day be the fairest of them all, Ravenna plans to eat the young woman's heart, thereby ensuring her own eternal youth. However, Snow White escapes Finn's clutches and entreats the Huntsman to escort her to the safety of a neighbouring kingdom, home of her childhood sweetheart William (Sam Clafin).
It's fair to say that Snow White and the Huntsman has had a good deal of its thunder stolen by rival Snow White project Mirror Mirror (directed by Tarsem Singh, renowned for his superlative production designs), which beat it to an earlier release date and turned out to be surprisingly good fun. However, director Sanders effectively out-Tarsems Tarsem with his stunning visual effects work on both the enchanted forest sequences and the Wicked Queen's various enchantments.
Hemsworth (swapping Thor's hammer for a bloody great axe) is fine as the Huntsman, despite inexplicably opting for a Scottish accent, while the decision to make Ravenna an almost tragic figure (driven to evil because she fears growing old) robs the film of an opportunity for Theron to get stuck into the sort of scenery-chewing evil shenanigans Julia Roberts was having fun with in Mirror Mirror. Sadly, Stewart fails to inject any energy into Snow White and she's mopey and bland as a result, though she does look very fetching in a suit of armour, even if she can't manage to generate any chemistry with either of her co-stars (poor old K-Stew – another film, another rubbish love triangle).
On top of that, the script and dialogue are both frequently dull and there's a painful lack of humour throughout. However, the film's worst problem is its decision to cast the likes of Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Nick Frost and Tobey Jones as five of the seven (actually eight) dwarves, which backfires badly as it proves too distracting and results in a jarring shift in tone.
Despite its stunning visual effects work, Snow White and the Huntsman is something of a disappointment and would happily sit alongside the recent version of Red Riding Hood in a double bill of underwhelming fairytale movies. That's not to say that Stewart's Twi-hard fanbase might not eat it up anyway, but they deserve something meatier than this.