Snow White and the Huntsman
by M. Faust
I’m not sure where Hollywood got the idea that there is a market for grim, big-budget adaptations of fairy tales, given that none of the ones that have hit the screens in recent years has done much better than breaking even. Yet here is this year’s second adaptation of the Snow White story, and if it’s sufficiently different from the Julia Roberts starrer Mirror Mirror that no one is likely to confuse them, that’s hardly any reason for it to have been greenlit in the first place. Set in a medieval landscape reminiscent of Game of Thrones, it extends and expands the familiar storyline without offering any deeper themes to make it worth the effort. (At least in its finished format: I’m willing to bet that somewhere along the line this was born as a more ambitious script.)
In what is perhaps the worst performance by an Oscar-winning actresses since the direct-to-video films of Louise Fletcher, Charlize Theron is Ravenna, who proclaims that “Beauty is power” while using her magically extended looks to marry kings and take over their thrones. Kristen Stewart is the princess exiled to a tower until she reaches puberty, when she escapes into the woods. Chris Hemsworth is the huntsman who is sent to retrieve her but instead becomes her protector from the queen and her brother (Sam Spruell), whose near-albino pallor and pageboy haircut make him somewhat less fearsome than intended.
Yes, there be dwarves in those woods, played by a bunch of more or less full-sized British characters actors who have been digitally shrunk. These include Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, and Bob Hoskins. I only recognized the last, but I’m sure the others will be just as pleased to have gone unnoticed. There are also fairies, which are about as welcome in this overstuffed narrative as they have been on True Blood. (Which, if you don’t have HBO, is not at all.)
Dour and dreary, Snow White and the Huntsman takes more than two hours to go nowhere surprising, perfunctorily working in the expected plot points (Poison apple? Check. Handsome prince? Check.) without making them feel welcome. The CGI special effects are downplayed as if debuting director Rupert Sanders, who comes to this from X Box productions, thinks there’s a story for them to interfere with. Stewart and Hemsworth strike no chemistry, and the former’s climactic rouse-the-troops speech is cringeworthy even before it’s followed by a shot of her in Joan of Arc drag. It’s the bummer of this summer.
Watch the trailer for Snow White and the Huntsman
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