If you like the Twilight movies because you enjoy watching Kristen Stewart crash and burn, Snow White and the Huntsman will only disappoint.
Who knew that Stewart, who plays the frustratingly gorgeous and somewhat grungy princess-turned-fugitive, could actually act? Snow White does not speak in a monotone or blink twenty times per sentence, nor does she find herself paired with the painfully awkward Robert Pattinson or incredibly dull Taylor Lautner. Rather, she is a strong yet innocent woman who, by the movie’s end, is anything but a helpless victim. Perhaps Stewart is more successful as Snow White because she barely has any speaking lines in the first third of the movie. Still, when Snow White escapes from the Queen’s castle and fights her way through the dark forest to escape Thor—I mean, the Huntsman, played by Chris Hemsworth—Stewart proves herself as an actress who just might win the audience’s respect. She even holds her own next to Charlize Theron—an impressive feat.
Theron does not seem like the villainess type, but Snow White and the Huntsman demonstrates just how well the dark side suits her. As the Evil Queen, a mere glance from Theron is enough to make you squirm, her ice-blue gaze commanding the screen. The Queen’s sexualized, dementor-like ability to suck the youth out of her subjects is haunting, and her thirst for blood is deliciously nightmarish. She’s manipulative, obsessive, abusive and completely terrifying. While the “scary” aspects of the film could have been cheesy, the special effects make them stunning; from a magic mirror that melts and reforms as a living, liquid figure to bellow, “You are the fairest of them all” to an army of invincible men created from shards of black glass, each fantasy element is an amalgamation of both beauty and darkness.
The cinematography is quite stunning, in fact, throughout the film. Whether the camera is focused on the evil or the good, it always captures a touch of magic, bringing the fairytale to life. Many of the old Disney elements are present (yes, even the dwarves) but with a more modern, dark edge. You won’t find any singing forest creatures here, but you will find plenty of nail-biting action and even a few unpredictable twists. The film (and Kristen Stewart) far exceeded my expectations, and it is the best fairytale adaptation I’ve seen. And never fear, Twilight fans, Snow White and the Huntsman still features a love triangle, although Hemsworth only takes his shirt off once.