I never really planned on seeing this movie. The girl from the Twilight movies and Thor? Meh. But my stepsis insisted, and since she sat through Prometheus for me (and — although not a horror fan like myself — ended up liking it as well, see review below) I figured I owed her. Was I surprised.
Snow White and the Huntsman is the familiar tale of the young princess (Kristen Stewart, or “K-Stew” as she is better known), the evil queen (Charlize Theron), the huntsman turned hero (Chris Hemsworth) and of course, the eight dwarfs (Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Brian Gleeson and Toby Jones). But the film offers up a lot more, with complete back stories for all the characters and even manages to garner sympathy for the baddies. All this with a sure hand on the visuals (and some wicked CGI — Forest Troll FTW), make for excellent entertainment.
That said, and oddly enough, between the main actresses it is K-Stew who comes out with a relatively solid performance (I have never seen all of any of the Twilight films, but I am told she can be quite the bore onscreen), and is genuinely engaging in some scenes. Ms. Theron, on the other hand — who is usually amazing — spends most of the film shrieking and posturing, and making me chuckle all the while. I’m concerned if this is due to the script, the direction, or if it was the inspiration of Theron — but in any case, it comes off as too over-the-top and melodramatic, and weakens the later scenes when you begin to sympathize for her. Hemsworth is wonderful as the Huntsman. He even manages to give some depth to his by-the-numbers character, and some great light-hearted moments.
Throw in a spirited score by James Newton Howard, and you’ve got a great summer movie — one with surprisingly added dimension, and a lot of heart.