Adapting a classic story leads to the impulse for radical change. No one wants to be responsible for creating something that is entirely known, or accused of laziness in their execution of a story. The trick is to still maintain the story in a recognizable form, but to mutate the tale in a way that holds basic themes or ideas of the source, while perhaps entertaining new plot or action.
It only makes sense, then, that a film such as yourself would come along, and recast the die of the well-trod tale of Snow White as a warriors tale, a battle between good and evil on a kingdom-sized scale. In a basic sense, the idea is a sound one, and yet there are problems in the execution on a story level. All the same, I think that you are perhaps the best possible outcome from following the ambition for creating this story, and your visual acumen is more than enough to outweigh any slightness of plot or story.
In your retelling, Snow White (Kristen Stewart) is the daughter of a slain king, whose kingdom was usurped by a wicked witch who tricked him into marriage before murdering him. When the queen (Charlize Theron) is informed by her magic mirror that the only way to seal her youth, beauty, and power is to consume Snow White’s heart, the imprisoned princess makes her escape, and hides in the Dark Forest. In order to track her, the queen waylays a drunken, grieving huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) into finding her. However, it doesn’t take long for the huntsman to switch allegiances and take on Snow White as his ward, shepherding her toward the safety of a rebellious neighboring kingdom.
This switch-up on the tale is novel and yet weirdly inevitable, though it’s surprising how well the story beats transfer over. We get the poisoned apple, true love’s kiss, the dwarves, and the magic mirror. What we also get is rollicking action on a scale one would not necessarily expect from a tale based on Snow White. These scenes, more than anything, explain the appeal of creating a larger narrative and opening up the scope of the world.
Of course your greatest asset and perhaps the best reason to bring this larger scope to bear is your visual flair. First-time feature director Rupert Sanders shows a keen eye for space and framing, creating some shots of stark and esoteric beauty. Not only that, but the world at large and the environments in general – the Dark Forest, a fairy glen, and the keeps and castles in general – are all sumptuous visual feasts. There are moments and creatures and visions in your story that go beyond simple novelty. Your world feels fully realized, pitch-perfect in execution and conception.
This, perhaps, is my greatest point of enjoyment to be taken from you. You are a film that could have coasted easily on the concept of a horse-borne Snow White charging into battle, but instead sought to deliver some interesting and well executed performances – specifically from Hemsworth and Theron – on top of a fully actualized and living world. Even better, a world that does not shy from being violent and terrifyingly weird from time to time. No corners were cut in the creation and execution of your story. Small, world-necessary details are peppered throughout the frame, and you never flinch from showing truly horrible and true-to-life acts and consequences. You are a dark, violent, moody piece of work, and I like you for that.
I like you a lot.
Brian J. Roan