This film had some really good ideas. It creates a world that's fantastical, yet grounded in reality. The presence of the dwarves is justified within the story, with background and so forth. It wants to explore the Queen as a character
. It wants to explore the "Prince" as a character, which is why he's the Huntsman now. But it's all just poorly executed.
The worldcraft is the best element of the film, with striking visuals (except for the mirror, which I thought was way overdone) and elements of dark magic that dip into the realm of horror. Oddly, there are random Miyazaki elements just thrown in for seemingly no purpose. Though if you're going to steal, there are worse places to steal from.
The film dies in three places. The Queen's character and motivation is explored, but is never really followed through. For the first 30 minutes, she's the only real character. After that, she crops up here and there to do plot-relevant things, but she's basically gone from the movie. We get one random flashback of how she got her powers, and that's it. The film really felt like she was a Villain Protagonist
or something at first, then it seemed to forget she existed. Her eventual death, as a consequence, didn't really have the build-up it needed. Indeed, the plot resolution as a whole really felt like the writers decided "hey, time to wrap this up now."
The second problem is the Huntsman, who replaces the Prince as the love interest. His character motivation is... absolutely standard
. Chris Hemsworth delivers a solid performance, but we've seen the this kind of character before and it's just not very interesting.
But really, what buries this movie in a shallow grave is Kristen Stewert's complete inability to emote with her face. Kristen maintains that vacant, "Dur" expression for almost the entire movie. In the second act, so many scenes rely on her expressing fear, wonderment, defiance, or various other emotions. And it never works.
She even gives an "inspirational" speech at the end which is so poorly written and delivered that it murders your suspension of disbelief. And the fight scene at the end is best left forgotten.
The filmmakers had good ideas, but completely failed to make them pay off.