The classic Grimm’s fairytale gets a Gothic makeover in this atmospheric and wonderfully visual fantasy film. I am a sucker for “atmospheric, visual, Gothic fantasy films”, so I really enjoyed this.
As I eluded to in my Mirror, Mirror review, the make-or-break with this film lies with (big sigh) lead actress Kristen Stewart, and while I may have gone in pessimistic, she did nothing to change my opinion in that she’s an awful actress.
Luckily she has a great supporting cast (pun fully intended) Chris Hemsworth isn’t quite given enough focus but makes good with what he gets, while Charlize Theron easily steals the show as the narcissistic but power mad Queen Ravenna. I actually had far more sympathy for her character than I did for Snow White, and the film reminded me how much a good villain gives to a story. People respect heroes, but they love villains.
There’s a very strong sense of atmosphere and presence in the film’s visuals; every shot feels full and designed, from the armoured knights and horses, to magical forests both good and evil. I was reminded of the fantasy films of the 1980s, like Ridley Scott’s Legend (a classic, if you’ve not seen it) with great costume work and even competent CGI. It is dark, sometimes unsettling and always visually interesting.
The only problem is Stewart, she is often a blank space on the screen, so little human reaction to anything, making Snow White merely a plot device for the other characters’ emotional resonances. Fortunately though, there are so many good things going on around her, you can distract yourself quite easily.
Very much recommended for all; young will be inspired, older audiences will find it visually intriguing. It gets a very generous: