Snow White and the Huntsman

Fri, Jun 1, 2012, 01:00

Directed by Rupert Sanders. Starring Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Ian McShane, Nick Frost, Ray Winstone, Bob Hoskins, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, Lily Cole 12A cert, general release, 126 min

YES, YES, YES. The latest adaptation of Snow White – like this year’s feeble Mirror Mirror – is, of course, an outrageous rip-off of Tim Burton’s puzzlingly successful Alice in Wonderland.

As in that film, the heroes get to don armour and wallop antagonists on their hairy heads. Come to think of it, Burton’s film owed an awful lot to Lord of the Rings. The new film is positively dripping in other people’s DNA.

Never mind. Snow White and the Huntsman turns out to be a surprisingly nifty piece of work. Whereas Alice in Wonderland toyed too much with whimsy and cuteness, Rupert Sanders’s grimy epic allows in a surprising amount of blood and gratifying degrees of entry-level horror. It’s spooky, funny and just a little bit freaky.

Charlize Theron is impressively spiteful as the wicked queen who takes expected umbrage at the mirror’s outrageous suggestion that her stepdaughter might be the “fairest of them all”. The under-rated Kristen Stewart brings introverted fury to the role of Snow White. Though the film stays away from clever-clever pop-cultural references, one still gets the sense of a lady who lunches becoming confused by a looser, more contemporary class of beauty.

Chris Helmsworth, our current Thor, confirms his status as the era’s most gifted wielder of the manly grunt. Playing the titular huntsman, he is offered every opportunity to pluck the damsel – no slouch at defending herself, mind – from the clutches of demonic henchmen.

At times, the smoky art design becomes just a little monotonous. But the interlude in a fairy glade offers some colourful relief, and the contributions from the celebrity dwarfs – Ray Winstone, Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, Nick Frost and three others – are consistently amusing.

Mind you, one can’t help but worry about the notion of digitally altering fully sized actors to play little people. Isn’t this a little like blacking up performers to become ersatz people of colour? Some class of boycott is sure to follow.

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