Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)

(On-demand, September 2012) Given the latest decade of post-Lord of the Rings fantasy films, re-imagining the Snow White fairytale as epic fantasy wasn’t such a conceptual leap.  Here’s the evil queen, here are the rebels, here is Snow White as a symbol of the old order to be restored… not bad.  Or rather; would have been not bad had someone with some skill had written the script, and someone vastly more talented been the lead protagonist.  Because, even though I like Kristen Stewart in specific doses (Adventureland, anyone?), her range as a dour emotionless actress just isn’t wide enough to accommodate what she’s being asked to do here.  Would it kill her to smile, laugh, squee or have fun once in a while?  Not that the issues stop here, what with a medieval-ish land that clearly has pagan magic and a Christian prayer in it: It’s never too clear whether the universe of this film is supposed to be realist with a bit of magic or a fully-magical secondary universe.  No matter, though, because plot contrivances really drive this story, along with misguided told-not-shown romance, dropped plot threads, blindingly-obvious foreshadowing and other problems.  At least two people come out if this film with reputations intact: Charlize Theron as the evil queen with more humanity than the protagonist, and Chris Hemsworth as the gruff titular huntsman.  Below the line, the people who worked on the film’s visual elements should also give themselves a pat on the back: there’s some nice work here, most notably in the scene-setting of the fairyland segments.  Alas, it’s a moment that clashes with the grittiness of the rest of the film and feels largely useless as a plot element, something that extends to the seven dwarves of the Snow White legend.  (In a further twist, a number of famous non-dwarves actors play the somewhat superfluous dwarves, something so staggeringly useless as to defy explanation.)  For all of the visual impact of the film, Snow White and the Hunstman is almost completely empty of interest: the plot staggers and spurts ahead without forward momentum, and the result is boring.  2012 has seen two disappointing big-screen versions of the Snow White fairytale, but if I’d have to choose, I’d rather sit through Mirror, Mirror once again.

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