Snow White and the Huntsman, 2012.
Directed by Rupert Sanders.
Starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Lily Cole, Sam Claflin, Toby Jones, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Eddie Marsan and Brian Gleeson.
After being sent to kill Snow White (Kristen Stewart), a huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) opts instead to mentor her in the art of war and – with the aid of eight dwarves – she begins a quest to kill her wicked stepmother, the Evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron).
The trailers for this movie looked like the work of Tim Burton – mysterious, dark and ephemeral (not surprising when I found out that they’d nabbed the costume designer and one of the producers of Alice in Wonderland for Snow White and the Huntsman) so I was willing to overlook my dislike for Kristen Stewart as an actress in favour of the worksmanship and craft that appeared to be invested in this film. Compared to the many cinematic interpretations of the fairy tale over the years, I was fully expecting SWATH to be one of the unmissable ones – a darker interpretation of the classic, especially when put next to the comedy version with Julia Roberts, Mirror Mirror: The Untold Adventures of Snow White, which was released earlier this year.
Unfortunately I was disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, I really wanted to like this movie. The behind-the-scenes names are something to get excited about, particularly Joe Roth as producer. The trailers looked awesome. Essentially this looked like exactly my kind of film. What let it down for me was that too much money and attention were given to big Hollywood names, and not enough invested in the writing and direction. This was Evan Daugherty’s debut screenplay, and shoddy dialogue, failed attempts at humour and poor plot structure meant that the audience was left feeling slightly short-changed. Whilst a serious tone is maintained for the majority of the film, the introduction of the dwarves as typically drunken, grizzly workmen seemed offbeat and out of place. The cusp of the joke was pretty much that they were little people acting like wizened old men, which was met with uncertain laughter and hesitation from the audience. Not funny. At all.
The acting, for the most part, was average. I maintain my opinion that Kristen Stewart should not be placed in lead roles, because she does not have the charisma to pull them off. She had very few lines throughout, I suspect due to her poor mastery of a British accent (similarly, Chris Hemsworth wavered between Scottish and Irish, I’m not quite sure which he was going for), and she failed to communicate a character who should be full of depth and conflict. As always, she maintained her catalogue of three facial expressions (slightly scared, slightly sad, slightly confused). Chris Hemsworth, I’m happy to say, did a slightly better job as the Huntsman, fulfilling his role as the supporting male aptly, and actually garnering more sympathy for his character than for Kristen Stewart’s. The variations on the original Snow White story were appropriately communicated by Hemsworth, but not Stewart.
The stand-out performance for me was Charlize Theron as the evil Queen Ravenna, both dark and foreboding and slightly sexy all at once. On screen, she commanded the attention of the audience and her transformation from the innocent prisoner of war into the powerful and wretched Queen was magnificent. Her makeup was stunning and her costume design, by award winner Colleen Atwood (behind such masterpieces as Memoirs of a Geisha), was beautiful and terrifying, truly embodying the bird that is her namesake. I also enjoyed the added depth that they gave to the Queen’s back story, although it was not made entirely clear or properly invested into. Besides that, Theron truly stole the show – a shame as Stewart’s Snow White is supposed to be the strong feminine force of the story.
The visual representation of the kingdom was also breathtaking. The slums of the Middle English villages contrasted brilliantly with the magic and mystery of the Dark Forest and the Queen’s grandeur. Particular beautiful images were that of the “White Heart” deer in the forest, and the Dark Forest where mushrooms sprayed passers-by with sedatives.
Overall a poor script let this film down. What could have been an incredible movie suffered from some bad dialogue and storytelling. Such a pity when the rest of the delivery was incredible – the costume and set design particularly. It’s also a shame that Kristen Stewart was given the lead role. I feel that someone like Emily Browning (who coincidentally was also shortlisted for The Twilight Saga’s Bella Swan) would have been much better suited for this iconic heroine.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★ ★