Ravenna is a cold, cruel woman who has gone through a lot of misery in her past. When she was young her mother told her that her looks would be the only thing that would keep her alive, and passed down some magic to Ravenna. Taking her mother's words to heart, Ravenna now only lives through the beauty of others, and punishes any men that get in her way. She meets King Magnus, whose wife recently passed, and they two immediately fall in love. And on their wedding night Ravenna kills him and becomes Queen. But the King had a daughter named Snow White and Ravenna keeps her locked up in the highest tower in the castle. But when Snow turns 18, Ravenna discovers that Snow is the only person who can end the reign of the wicked Queen. Snow manages to escape her captors and Ravenna sets the Huntsman after her. But Snow has friends all over the kingdom and soon it's no longer just about Ravenna staying alive, it's about a battle of good vs. evil for the fate of the world.
While Snow White and the Huntsman takes its basic story from the classic Snow White story, this is not your traditional fairy tale. It's a dark, gothic, epic adventure that mixes elements of Braveheart, The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones and Once Upon a Time and spits out a tremendous film. From the very beginning the movie is beautifully shot with these intense images and rich colors. A red rose set against the white snow, black crows circling the Queen, the living space of the dwarfs - everything is so amazingly filmed I wished for the first time that this movie was in 3D because I wanted to feel like I was in the middle of everything. Whether you ultimately like the movie or not, there is no question you'll enjoy the visuals. And even if you don't like the movie you will be blown away by Charlize Theron as the wicked Queen Ravenna. Never have I seen someone chew up the scenery like her. She is by far the best wicked witch you'll ever see. She plays Ravenna with such intensity you're always on the edge of your seat waiting for her to explode. But she manages to also show a slightly sadder side when she reflects on what led her to her current situation. There is a heart buried deep within that black soul. And I know one of the big issues people had with this movie even before it came out was the casting of Kristen Stewart as Snow White. Is she physically the most beautiful woman they could find? Probably not - in fact Lily Collins from Mirror Mirror earlier this year might be the best possible choice for a Snow White from a looks standpoint. But Stewart holds her own here and don't write her off because of the Twilight series. It's not her fault that the source material is horrible. She's a pretty good actress when given the chance. And lastly there's Chris Hemsworth a.k.a. Thor as The Huntsman. I'm not sure I could have made a better choice for the role as he's obviously attractive and definitely has the size where you believe he can win any fight he enters. So combined, the three top actors are all well cast and all work very well together.
The story is pretty intense and involves a lot of violence - this isn't a movie where you can just drop off the kids and think they're seeing a fairy tale. The entire story holds up pretty well throughout in fact. There are times where it looks like it might jump to the other side of cheesy, but then someone (or something) gets shot with an arrow and you're right back to being in the middle of the action. The use of the seven dwarfs also felt natural, and their story made sense. It was interesting that the filmmakers decided to use non-dwarf actors for the roles, so you're seeing familiar faces like Ian McShane and Bob Hoskins (under heavy makeup of course) but they're also half the size they normally are. I'm wondering what the reason for that was, but I haven't read anything about it yet. It worked though because at no point did I feel like I was watching CGI dwarfs. In fact throughout the movie the visual effects were top notch. Everything very real and very vibrant. The running time is just over two hours but at no point did the movie drag. Every moment felt important. After a summer of mostly mediocre films, Snow White and the Huntsman packs everything you need into one package - action, adventure, romance, scares, laughs and tremendous visuals. I read at one point that this was a planned trilogy and I really hope it is because I would love to go back into this world.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I loved Snow White and the Huntsman. As I said, it has everything you're looking for in a movie and then some. Definitely worth seeing on the big screen (and then again on Blu-ray in a few months).