Directed by Rupert Sanders, the film attempts to be a gritty tale of rebellion, losing Snow White's charming life with the seven dwarves and instead pitching her against the evil queen with the huntsman serving as her protector and ally. In fact, the dwarves don't make an appearance until halfway through the film, and even then their appearance is not central to plot. It is much, much more about the huntsman, as the title suggests.
Chris Hemsworth plays the flawed character well enough, considering the script he is given to work with doesn't give him much in the way of depth or intelligence. The greatest character of them all is of course the evil queen Ravenna, played brilliantly by Charlize Theron. It is impossible to tear your eyes away as she loses her fragile hold on her sanity, and her brother, played by Sam Spruell, is just plain creepy. Kristen Stewart's performance is less wooden than her previous efforts in the Twilight films, however, I struggled to really feel for her and even during her war speech; she fails to become truly angry as I imagine her character would. The dwarves add a much needed lightness and comedic value, without losing sincerity. And the prince? Not really worth a mention; as I said, this story is about the Huntsman.
Sanders does well to create a dark, post-apocalyptic feel to the kingdom that the queen has ruined, and visually, the film is beautiful. In particular, the sweeping shots of the castle on the rocky beach contrast well to the dim, close, and dangerous forest. It has a convincing air of a fantasy-adventure film, and the montages of the characters "journeying" across the land remind me strongly of Lord of The Rings and similar. Sadly, this film lacks the heart and dynamic relationship between the characters to make it truly convincing.
All the way through it feels like the film is missing something. It drags on for far too long and not much happens over the first half. A sense of desperation from the protagonists is missing - and that desperation is necessary when turning a fairytale into a story of rebellion. Instead, the film plods along at an unremarkable pace, and the characters just react to their surroundings as they go along, without much purpose. More true to reality, perhaps, but if I wanted to watch reality I wouldn't see a film about Snow White.
All in all, it is a watchable, but forgettable, fairytale remake. It is worth seeing just for Theron.