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Movie Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

June 11, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman stars starring Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth. — Courtesy Photo

The second Snow White of this summer makes it clear that it is not a mockery. Like Lily Colins, this Snow, played by Twilight Saga’s Kristen Stewart too swings a bloody sword. Only, she swings it seriously.

I would hang myself if anyone says Stewart is an action star. A scream queen I can understand.

There is a scene in the first half of Snow White and the Huntsman, the “other” new big screen adaptation of Bros. Grimm’s Snow White playing right now, where Snow faces off and out-screams a wood-monster in one of those dilapidated forests that so often find themselves in fairy tales.

While the screaming match does go to Stewarts vocal chords, in his star-making turn, the monster, with his expressive puppy-eyes, half-organic slits for nostrils and looming antlers, wins in the performance bit. Though computer generated, he is the second best actor in the movie after the wicked  — and the stupefyingly gorgeous — step mother Charlize Theron.

She is Ravenna, who sups on young maiden’s heart, and consults personal fortunes from her wicked gold gong-like mirror on the wall – a veiled, humanoid avatar, invisible to ‘normal’ people’s senses. However, from the way Ravenna acts around the mirror (Theron performs a meaty role, meatier), she’s likely a theatre actor suffering from schizophrenia, than a woman self–damned by a gypsy curse.

I won’t bore you with the stories’ details. We know how that goes anyway.

Theron and Stewart, with her “snow white” complexion straight out of the Twilight movies, headlines a cast that includes seven full-grown actors miniaturized in post as the seven dwarfs (Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Eddie Marsan, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost and Toby Jones). Sleepy, Droopy and Doc they ain’t, but a tad bit of Shakespearean-pathos, or a slight dose of Peter Jackson doesn’t hurt either. Like the ones in Julia Roberts’ Mirror, Mirror, they are rugged bandits, with no likeability to them whatsoever.

And then there’s Chris “the almighty Thor” Hemsworth as the second lead of the title (he plays the Hunstsman), a widower whose romance ill-fits the screenplay by Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock (Blindside) and Hossein Amini (Drive).

Nevertheless there is true love – somewhere. She’s smitten at first sight when they first meet. Although she has a prospective love interest from childhood (Sam Claflin), their fates were intertwined by the screenplay: she was on the run, after escaping from the low-security castle dungeon (and Ravenna’s lascivious brother played by Sam Spruell) on the day she comes of age; he was commissioned (read:hoodwinked) to track her down.

The screenplay, Daugherty’s first big sale, sold to Universal for a seven figure deal, flickers an occasional originality, before ill-fitting jolts in the narrative riddle its structure bloody.

Debuting director Rupert Sanders received oodles of acclaim and two Golden Lions at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival), knows how to fling the action — and infrequent dramatics – without tedious conventionality; however that isn’t nearly enough to salvage the movie’s muddling second act.

Marketed as an action film, with borderline witchcraft by Theron’s queen, the abject use of superficial curse-breaking goodness we’re told residing in Snow’s character never reveals itself. So, to make its point clear, we’re introduced to enchanted creatures out of Hayao Miyazaki’s world (notably, a royal stag, right out of Mononoke Hime), who sense the good in her.

Again, though beautifully rendered, these CGI creates are needless additions – with good acting skills – decorating a film whose original intentions get lost in translation. Sometimes too many rewrites do more harm than good.