Sunday, June 3, 2012


Kristen Stewart is painfully miscast in this dark new vision of the Snow White fairy tale. There's a lot going wrong with our leading lady. In "Snow White and the Huntsman," she plays the title heroine all heavy sighs and mouth breathing. It's described that not only is Snow White the fairest of them all, she is also full of heart, energy and spirit -- all things Stewart's performance is not. She flat-out doesn't fit the role, and one must wonder if the actress ever will be able to escape "Twilight" mode.

This marks the first feature film from British commercial director Rupert Sanders, and he does deliver on his promise of taking the Snow White legend to its most sinister and harshest extreme. This is a brave re-imagining of the fairy tale, and the exact opposite of earlier this year's "Mirror Mirror." Visually speaking, the movie is a stunner with sceneries that are both bleak and gorgeous. Take the Dark Forest for example full of haunting creatures and deep fog, all which contrasts perfectly with an enchanting fairyland Snow White is later led to. This locale is full of lush greens and woodland creatures no doubt in tribute to Disney's 1937 classic animated film.

The film kicks off with a background story about the Evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) who married Snow White's father only to murder him and gain rights to the throne. This left young Snow White locked in a tower for years with her evil stepmother ruling as a ruthless and maniacal queen hated by all in the land. And now that Snow White is mature, she poses the only threat to Queen Ravenna's rule and requires her dead. All very intriguing, but it's once Snow White makes her escape when the storyline slams into a standstill. What the screenplay suffers from is a distinct slog in pacing.

The queen sends out the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to seek out Snow White in the Dark Woods, apprehend her and bring her back to the castle. The strong, mead-guzzling hero swings an ax like nobody's business and upon finding Snow White, he realizes whose side he should be on and decides to help her defeat the queen. There's another man in the tale, as well; Snow White's childhood love named Prince William (Sam Claflin). The love triangle becomes apparent, and yet nothing comes of it. The relationship between any of these pivotal characters is left frustratingly ambiguous to the point of being completely moot.

Charlize Theron's snarling, vicious queen is by far the movie's biggest selling point. With a tall, spiked iron crown and ominous gowns, she brings a violent charge to even silent, simmering moments. And while she mostly triumphs, her yelling fits do tend to feel strained. When she asks her precious mirror on the wall -- a cloaked golden figure -- who's the fairest of them all, and it's Stewart over Theron, you can't help but wonder who paid him to say that. This is also a Snow White who's meant to rouse a kingdom to action, donning a suit of armor upon a white steed to lead a charge to the castle. This Joan of Arc replica is all the more unconvincing played by Stewart.

And we can't forget our dwarves, eight of them in this version. These aren't the kind of dwarves you'll be expecting, especially once you notice they're played by notable actors including the likes of Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Toby Jones and Ray Winstone. Through the magic of CGI, they are shrunken down to size and put into character. Yet I couldn't help but think how casting these gentleman rid real life acting dwarfs potential work. Isn't that discrimination?

If you could take the visual spectacle of "Snow White and the Huntsman" on its own accord, the film would act wonderfully as a breathtaking, fantasy epic poem. But at just over two hours, there has to be some acting and characterization accounted for. It's a harsh lesson both the evil queen and the movie should've took to heart: looks aren't everything.

1 comment:

  1. A surprisingly compelling action/fantasy film, with a consistent pace, effective atmosphere and commanding visuals galore.