Snow White & The Huntsman is a re-imagining of the classic fairytale into an epic medieval action-adventure story. The King has been windowed for several years since his wife died during childbirth when he decides to get remarried to Ravenna (Charlize Theron). On their wedding night, the Evil Queen kills her new husband and takes over the kingdom. She has the King’s beautiful daughter, Snow White, locked up in a tower and the rest of the townsfolk slaughtered. Some of the nobles manage to escape, but believe Snow has been murdered.
A decade or so later, the kingdom has fallen to ruin due to the Queen’s dark magic. She has been hoarding the resources for herself, and has been maintaining her youth by literally sucking the life out of her young subjects. Her magic mirror tells her that she can make her youth permanent if she holds the heart of the fairest in the land, Snow White (Kristen Stewart). But when Ravenna sends her brother to retrieve Snow from her tower, Snow manages to escape. So she dispatches the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to find Snow and bring her back. However, after the Huntsman meets Snow, he realizes they are on the same side and agrees to help her find the Duke and his army so she can take back the kingdom.
When I first saw the ads for this film, I was really worried it was going to go the route of Twilight, and be another Kristen Stewart film where it’s all about the drama of her having to choose between two guys—the Hunstman and Prince William. However, that was certainly not the case. This film was more of an epic journey. Snow has this quest to take back the kingdom. She starts off as a weak young girl, escaping the castle Shawshank-style through the sewer. But she grows stronger, wiser and more confident as she crosses lands such as the Dark and Enchanted forests and encounters the Troll and the Dark Fairies. She also gains a posse along her journey—winning over the Huntsman and the Dwarves, who all start off as her adversaries. All leading to an epic battle to take back the kingdom from the Evil Queen.
Speaking of the Dwarves, I really liked the direction this film takes in this regard. They are not your Disney dwarves with names like Happy and Grumpy. These are a group of noble bandits played by notable UK actors, many of whom are known for their “hard guy” roles—Beith (Ian McShane), Muir (Bob Hoskins), Quert (Johnny Harris), Coll (Toby Jones), Duir (Eddie Marsan), Gort (Ray Winstone), Nion (Nick Frost), and Gus (Brian Gleeson). These guys have great chemistry and provide comic relief, while also adding to the dramatic and action sequences of the film. I was really impressed by the performances and the effects were well done and looked very realistic—I never once doubted these actors as dwarves. The dwarves were definitely my favorite part of the film.
Charlize Theron was decent as the evil queen, though most of the time she is just yelling a lot. I did like that the film gives the viewer a bit of a backstory on Ravenna, and shows you her motivations for her evil actions. While she is despicable, as a viewer you can also sympathize with her a bit (though only a bit), due to what she had to go through in her past. I didn’t really care for the film’s Mirror Man version of the magic mirror—I would have preferred just a straight-forward mirror on the wall—but they get points for trying something new.
I enjoyed the performances by Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth. They both give some depth to their characters, playing both a vulnerable side and a tough side. Although, I can’t say that the Hunstman is all that different from the character of Thor—just change up the hair, clothes and accent. That said, I was really happy the film didn’t concentrate on the will they/won’t they relationship between their two characters. Instead it was more of a teacher/student relationship, with the Hunstman training Snow for her eventual battle with the Queen.
In general, the special effects were really well done, and for the most part they added to the film’s atmosphere and didn’t feel like they were put there just for the sake of using special effects. I also like how this film really brings the viewer right into the center of it all during the action sequences.
My main complaint for the film, is that in a few places it dragged and felt a bit long. I did watch the extended version of the film, but that was only about 4 minutes longer than the theatrical cut. In either cut, the film was still over two hours and perhaps could have been edited down a bit more.
All told, the film was visually stunning and is a fresh, darker take on a classic fairytale, and is worth checking out.
- Extended Edition (2:11:33)
- Theatrical Version (2:07:14)
- Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 DTS, French 5.1 DTS, DVS (Descriptive Video Service)
- English SDH, Spanish, French subtitles
- Audio: English 5.1 DD, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD, DVS (Descriptive Video Service)
- English SDH, Spanish, French subtitles
- Ultraviolet copy for Universal, Flixster or Vudu
- Digital Copy for iTunes, Windows Media or Amazon
Ultraviolet and Digital Copy (Extended Edition):
Extras (Blu-ray Only, Except for those marked with *):
- Universal’s Second Screen
If you are running the pocket BLU app on your iPad while watching he film, you can interact with the movie through 360 degree photos and behind the scenes footage related to the scene currently on your TV.
This is how all second screen experiences should be— it provides a lot of interesting, pertinent extras while watching the film. Note: most if not all of the clips and info used here are the same as those in the other extras listed below.
- Feature Commentary*
Director Rupert Sanders, Visual Effects Supervisor Cedric Nicolas-Troyan and Co-Editor Neil Smith provide some interesting insights and discussions throughout the film. Interestingly, this is available on both the extended and theatrical versions.
- A New Legend is Born* (20:53)
The cast and crew talk about creating the film, and what it was like working with first-time film director Rupert Sanders. The Costume Director, Colleen Atwood, and the actors also talk about the wardrobe for the film. Finally, the cast and crew discuss the production design, sets and stunts.
- Reinventing the Fairytale (6:07)
The creators discuss how this retelling of the classic Snow White story came about. There are also clips from the 4 minute tone poem Rupert Sanders put together to pitch the film.
- Citizens of the Kingdom (23:10)
The cast and creators talk about the various characters in the film and the actors’ portrayals of them. The dwarves one is especially interesting as they show the various tricks used to miniaturize the actors.
- Fairest of the All: Snow White (5:48)
- Deliciously Evil: Queen Ravenna (5:36)
- The Huntsman (5:04)
- Motley Crew: The Dwarves (6:42)
- Fairest of the All: Snow White (5:48)
- The Magic of Snow White and the Huntsman (13:23)
The creators talk about creating Mirror Man, The Dark Forest, The Troll, The Enchanted Forest, and the Dark Fairies.
- Around the Kingdom: 360° Set Tour
There is an intro by Visual Effects Supervisor Cedric Nicolas-Troyan followed by the ability to explore: King Magnus’ Courtyard, Village Near Castle Tabor, Duke Hammon’s Castle Encampment, Queen Ravenna’s Throne Room, and Queen Ravenna’s Mirror Room. Each of these has their own introduction describing the location. Then you are presented with a photo with clickable hotspots to see additional behind the scenes clips as well as a 360 degree pan of the photo. I found it easier to pan and explore these photos via the Second Screen app on the iPad as navigating with the blu-ray remote was a bit clunky.
This is an interactive feature that can be enabled while watching the theatrical version of the film. Throughout the film, there are picture-in-a-picture behind the scenes video and interviews that pop up this is the same footage that is used in the Second Screen app and other featurettes mentioned above.
- What’s New! Powered by BD Live
View the trailer for this film as well trailers for other recent releases.
The film is visually stunning and sounds great—I give it full marks in both aspects. As I mentioned in the review, the special effects were really well done and integrated and just seem like part of the film.
There is a solid set of extras giving loads of behind the scenes information. They have included both cuts of the film, and the audio commentary works on both of them. I really like how Universal has given the user three different ways to watch the bonus content—second screen, picture-in-picture and through extras menu—allowing the viewer to choose whatever method fits their viewing style.
As I said in my review, there were some places where the film dragged a bit, but overall it is visually great and an inventive retelling of the Snow White legend on an epic scale, and definitely worth checking out.