By Mack Chico
‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ is a darker, more serious version from the classic Disney film we grew up with. There’s something almost Shakespearean about this movie. At times, Snow White and the Huntsman is almost too grim for its own good. There is plenty of PG-13 violence for fans of something a bit more aggressive.
The story: In a twist to the fairy tale, the Huntsman ordered to take Snow White into the woods to be killed winds up becoming her protector and mentor in a quest to vanquish the Evil Queen.
Visually, Snow White and the Huntsman is splendid. First-time director Rupert Sanders treats his cinematic canvas like a grand playground, allowing his imagination to run free with the aid of CGI.
The film’s most strident performance belongs to Charlize Theron, who emphasizes Ravella’s evil by shouting every line of dialogue. A traumatic childhood and reliance upon soul-sucking magic have leeched all humanity from the queen; her inevitable end will make the castle a quieter place. Theron is fine in scenes when she has no lines, such as one in which the queen disrobes and immerses herself in what looks like a milk bath but, when speaking, she’s often too over-the-top to convey true menace. Chris Hemsworth offers a low-key portrayal as the titular Huntsman, allowing the tragedy that haunts the character to inform his every action and decision. It’s a nice, understated piece of acting. Unfortunately, Kristen Stewart, perhaps still experiencing a thespian hang-over from spending so much time appearing in Twilight movies, is flat. Her Snow White is the least interesting character, unless you count her potential love interest, William (Sam Claflin). The dwarves are played by normal-sized actors like Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, and Ray Winstone who have been miniaturized by special effects.
Snow White and the Huntsman is presented with a 1080p, AVC-encoded transfer in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The video quality is excellent, with detail that is quite sharp. Even when Snow White is in the murky dark forest, every tree branch and drop of oily mud can be seen clearly. The bright colors of the enchanted forest pop out. The forest looks lush, serving as a nice contrast to the dark world Snow White had formerly inhabited. The skin tones look very natural, with Snow’s pale face contrasting with other characters’ rosier complexions.
The sound is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1. The lossless soundtrack provides an immersive experience. The battle scenes come alive with the sounds of thundering hooves, and the clatter of swords. Overall the audio and video presentation is outstanding.
There are many special features included with the set. There is an audio commentary from director Rupert Sanders, co-editor Neil Smith, and visual effects supervisor Cedric Nicolas-Troyan. The three offer insights on many production aspects and how scenes were created. Featurettes include a making-of called “A New Legend is Born,” featuring cast and crew chatting about the production, “Reinventing the Fairy Tale,” a six-minute short about adapting the Grimm story, “Citizens of the Kingdom” about the various characters in the film, and “The Magic of Snow White and the Huntsman,” a short feature on the visual effects. Also included are a U-Control picture-in-picture feature that provides behind the scenes footage, a 360-degree tour of the set, and a second “Second Screen Experience” that is accessible via a tablet or PC.
This is a nice Blu-ray package. Both the theatrical and extended cuts (four minutes longer) of the film are included. The abundance of special features will please fans of the film.