SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN
** (out of 5)
June 1, 2012
Kristen Stewart as SNOW WHITE
Chris Hemsworth as THE HUNTSMAN
Charlize Theron as RAVENNA
Sam Claflin as WILLIAM
Sam Spruell as FINN
Directed by: Rupert Sanders
BY KEVIN CARR
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Earlier this spring, when there were two Snow White adaptations to look forward to, I was rolling my eyes at “Mirror Mirror” and rubbing my hands with anticipation for “Snow White and the Huntsman.” As it turns out, now that I’ve seen both movies, “Mirror Mirror” wasn’t as bad as I thought, and “Snow White and the Huntsman” wasn’t as good.
As different as the movies are, they have similar positive elements. The casts – for the most part – are good in each. But more noticeable, they are both gorgeous looking films. They embody entirely different production designs, but they are quite amazing to look at.
Where “Mirror Mirror” was more whimsical and silly, like a big budgeted version of a 1970s Hallmark Movie of the Week, “Snow White and the Huntsman” is very dark and serious… deadly serious at times. I do like serious, dark films, but when it comes to the Snow White legend, I was hoping for something more in the middle ground that both films missed.
In this adaptation, Charlize Theron plays the evil queen Ravenna who murders the king and uses her black magic to keep herself young. In an unintended metaphor for too much plastic surgery for Hollywood ladies, Ravenna sucks the youth out of her victims in a never-ending quest to be the fairest one of all. However, the magic mirror she keeps in her chamber warns her that her step-daughter Snow White (Kristen Stewart) has come of age and is now the fairest in the land.
Let’s stop right there. As many have pointed out, there is not a conceivable universe in which Kristen Stewart is fairer than Charlize Theron. Even when Ravenna is in need of her medieval Botox injection, she’s still far more attractive than the slack-jawed, sunken-eyed “Twilight” star. But for the sake of the story, I’ll let this ridiculous plot point slide.
Snow White escapes into the forest, running from Ravenna’s wrath. She is tracked by the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), who is pining for his dead wife. Soon, Snow White and the Huntsman join forces with a band of dwarves in the forest and decide to overthrow the evil queen.
You see… it’s basically the standard Snow White storyline, so the film gets an A for effort to keep true to the original Brothers Grimm tale.
As I stated before, the production design in this film is quite spectacular. However, as delicious as the scenery is in this film, it’s most delicious to the cast, who chews through it in every scene. The sad part of this is that you have great actors like Theron and even Hemsworth, who come across as overly dramatic. On the opposing side, you have Kristen Stewart, whose once fresh talent has been squandered and ruined as she believes the hype of the dreadful “Twilight” films.
Stewart is cringe-worthy in this movie, struggling to emote the often overwritten dialogue. She brings her “Twilight” game to this film, falling into her nervous ticks and tells when the script requires her to give something more than her trademarked wide-eyed stare. Through about half of the film, she channels Kevin Costner from “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” attempting a British accent but never quite hitting the mark and then giving up.
But beyond the over- and under-the-top acting going on in “Snow White and the Huntsman,” it’s biggest sin is that it’s dull at times. The trailers look impressive and have an energy, but first-time director Rupert Sanders falls in love with his own work that all that energy is sucked out of the film like Ravenna sucking the life out of young maidens.
It is not uncommon for a first-time director to overplay the drama of a film, and in particular, overplay the pauses between lines. This film doesn’t breathe as much as it hyperventilates, dragging out scenes to twice what they should be. Additionally, in the middle, things lose focus as the movie tries to justify the existence of the dwarves in the script.
Sure, the battle sequences at the end are cool to watch (even though Stewart’s timid cowering through the siege drains some power from it), and the film as a whole is visually stunning. Were the film edited down to a brisk 90 minutes, it would have been fantastic. Unfortunately, it’s a tough Snow White tale to swallow at a bloated 127 minutes.