If you could mess around with a classic, would you rather go for a comedy fantasy like Mirror Mirroror a darker and bolder twist such as Snow White & The Huntsman, which follows it a month later?

That essentially is the question facing viewers considering the latest adaptation of the fairy tale, Snow White, by the Brothers Grimm, happening on the 200th anniversary of the tale. But wait, weighing in the balance here is also the star power of Charlize Theron, who plays the erstwhile fairest of them all, Queen Ravenna, Twilight’s Kristen Stewart, and Chris Hemsworth, fresh from his Avengers stint as Thor.

Oscar winner for Best Actress, Theron, better known for her powerhouse portrayal of psychopathic serial killer in Monster, holds the reins to a kingdom with her beauty.  Composed as she is, she’s driven to hysteria when her magic mirror apprises her of her stepdaughter Snow White’s ability to threaten her reign and powers.

Being told that consuming her rival’s heart will ensure her reign forever, which was much the same as what Michelle Pfeiffer intended to do in Stardust, gives the Queen impetus to send a reluctant huntsman, Eric, into the Dark Forest to assassinate the escaped Princess. Regrettably for Ravenna, Eric spares and even assists Snow White’s endeavour to overthrow her after he finds out he was being deceived by the Queen.

Obvious comparisons will be made with Mirror Mirror as both are adaptations that update Snow White’s original demure and feminine character, a tactic employed since Shrek’s Princess Fiona more than a decade earlier. It’s clear, however, that Stewart’s version of Snow White is more masculine than Lily Collin’s, attributable to Stewart’s already tomboy-ish demeanour. Though it may be considered as an apt trait for the film’s darker interpretation of Snow White, Stewart, the once helpless teenager from Twilight, has difficulty with embodying the mannerism of a Princess from the Middle Ages with her laid back personality. Lacking in royal grace and even an adequate repertoire of facial expressions, Stewart struggles to make us believe she’s a self-sufficient Princess throughout the film.

In sharp contrast to Stewart’s lacklustre Snow White, comes Hemsworth, who rose to the challenge of speaking with a Scottish accent for his role as huntsman. Towering over the other cast members with his height and brawny built, the Australian actor did a commendable job distancing himself away from his demigod character, notwithstanding the slight resemblance in his weapon choice.

Alas, the chemistry was barely there between Stewart and Hemsworth, and there was slight awkwardness during the scenes when they were alone with the other, leaving fans disappointed.

More than making up for this, Theron was remarkable in communicating Queen Ravenna’s anguish when her powers started waning and she was in utter distress. Undoubtedly, the Oscars winner has overshadowed every cast in the set, and possibly even the world’s highest paid actress Julia Roberts, who also played the scheming Queen in Mirror Mirror. Side by side, Roberts’s rendition of the Evil Queen could have easily passed off as an eccentric fairy god-mother next to Theron’s disturbed role, which allowed for more room to flaunt her acting skills, and win the hearts of critics.

Next to Mirror Mirror’s ebullient fairy tale setting, Snow White and The Huntsman manifested itself as murkier. Some of the darkness was drawn from other fantasy/magic series, with marked similitude in settings with The Lord of the Rings trilogy’s beautiful and dark battle scenes, while the queen’s castle was reminiscent of Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series.

Mirror Mirror matched its costumes with the vivid colours used in the original Snow White fairy tale – yellow, red and blue. The film’s costume designer, Eiko Ishioka, an Oscar winner, had put in much effort trying to equally array every cast with different costume designs for different scenes, while in Snow White and The Huntsman, the costumes were much duller and more medieval. Only Queen Ravenna wore a different and, always magnificent and expensively fashioned costume, each time the scene changes, though admittedly it’s difficult to dress well, much less keep changing clothes when you’re on the run from a tyrannical ruler.

The film’s daring attempt to drift as much as possible from the original Snow White storyline, while keeping the original essence intact has indeed left us with a film worthy of watching. Who knows how emboldened other fairy tale filmmakers will be and what other twists are in store for us?


Movie: Snow White & The Huntsman

Rating: 3.5/5

Release Date: May 31

Duration: 127 mins

Language: English

Age Rating: PG13 – Violence

Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Director: Rupert Sanders

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron