Around the same age that they’re usually hearing fairy tales for the first time, children have a tendency to compulsively ask “Why?” questions. The script for Snow White and the Huntsman seems to anticipate this sort of grilling and provides answers in spades. The result is a film that’s considerably longer than it needs be, in which the evocative eloquence of storybook pictures is consistently garbled by the need to overexplain and psychoanalyze. Evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) marries her way to the throne and then drives threateningly fair Snow White (Kristen Stewart) into exile. An unruly subject, Huntsman Eric (Thor‘s Chris Hemsworth) is sent into the Dark Forest to finish Snow off, while Prince William (Sam Claflin), who remembers the princess from her girlhood, likewise sets on her trail. The setting is a palpably lived-in late-medieval universe of scrofulous peasantry and pervasive under-the-fingernails murk and mire, where everything on-screen has a conceivable use and looks used. The same detail applies to the fantasy aspects of Snow’s world, including a Dark Forest alive with all things that slither and skitter. But for all this Snow White‘s visual ornamentation, there’s no sense of narrative priority—the filmmakers can’t see the Dark Forest for the trees.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 30, 2012