Riva/Harlequin Presents author Heidi Rice gets jiggy with a film that manages to meld together fairytale fantasy, medieval action, gothic romance and Chris Hemsworth looking extremely moody and magnificent in leather trousers.
I have to admit I was immediately drawn to this movie (and not just because of seeing Chris Hemsworth's smouldering scowl plastered all over the 19 Bus for weeks on end), but because I was intrigued by the idea of a romance of sorts between Snow White and the man charged with cutting out her heart in a forest glen. In the original story (aka the Disney version) the huntsman was old enough to be the baby-faced Snow White's granddad, so it seemed some serious re-working was definitely in order.
This fully-fledged action fantasy does that and then some: Twilight actress Kristen Stewart's Snow White is a warrior princess determined to regain her father's kingdom; Hemsworth's huntsman is a grieving widower so desperate to be reunited with his dead wife that he'll contemplate cold-blooded murder; the dwarves are a band of wise-cracking brigands led by short people with faces that look remarkably like a host of British character actors; Sam Claflin's prince is relegated to the position of rather snotty second male lead; and Charlize Theron's Evil Queen is a baddie who's issues go way beyond a mirror fetish and a perchance for feeding people poison apples - that dodgy relationship with the albino brother we didn't know she had being a case in point...
But even with those intriguing rewrites, the essential gothic fantasy is kept in tact. The whole film has a uniquely dark, brooding mythic feel - from the medieval architecture of the Evil Queen's decaying palace to the festering rot of the haunted forest and the snowy landscapes of the barren kingdom...
Best of all though, for us hopeless romantics, is that muted central love story. Unfortunately I have to admit here that I think Miss Stewart's performance let the side down a bit. For a woman in her twenties, she still seems to be stuck rather annoyingly in pouty teen idol mode.
Given the 12A rating, sadly the growing attraction between Snow and the Huntsman never yields more than some feisty bickering, a chaste kiss (because Snow is comatose at the time) and one hot look.... But boy that's one seriously smouldering bit of eye contact! Making me hope they make a sequel, about what happens to Snow once her kingdom has been regained and she finds herself falling in love with the buff protector who's true-love kiss brought her back to life. And here's hoping the leather trousers make a reapperance too!
The Good, the Bad and the Wild (and stalking Nora Roberts!). Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@HeidiRomRice), her blog and her website.