I finally saw a film I had added to my “I’ll watch it when it comes out on DVD when there’s nothing else worth watching” list. The only thing that kept me from passing it over all together is the fact that a certain Aussie actor is in it…the talented and fetching, Chris Hemsworth. A fave of mine.
The film as I am sure you have already deduced is “Snow White & the Huntsman”. The tale of Snow White and her seven short cohorts is a well-known and much beloved fairy tale. There have been a number of film versions ranging from a silent version produced in 1916, to versions featuring Betty Boop and the 3 Stooges, to a late 1990’s movie production, “Snow White: A Tale of Terror”, starring Sigourney Weaver as the evil step-monster. Different films often mean different variations on the theme. Not a bad thing in itself, but it is all in the execution.
“Snow White & the Huntsman” is a slightly different variation from the classic tale. The Huntsman has always been a key element of the story, but here he is more prominent within the story. The seven dwarves do make an appearance, but it’s later in the storyline. The Evil Queen is indeed evil, literally sucking the life out of innocent young girls to keep her beauty and youth intact. She has a brother present in this version who acts more of her lackey, bringing her young victims and whatever else she commands. (I read in more than one place that the first time director of the film, Rupert Sanders, gave interviewers the impression that “SW&TH” was going to be very tongue-in-cheek…uhm, not so much.) The evil ‘Ravenna’ (who turns into a cloud of ravens when she magic’s herself away), is played by the very able actress, Charlize Theron. She brings a life to the character that oozes venom. Ravenna comes into the life of Snow White when her father, King Magnus, saves the beauty from captors oblivious to the danger he’s in. He falls in love with Ravenna and the two wed. Ravenna murders the king with a knife on their wedding bed…a bit more brutal than the usual poison method. The queen then imprisons Snow White in the dungeon until she is a young woman.
Around the time that the queen learns that Snow White is the key to both her immortality and her death, SW escapes from the dungeon with the aid of helpful bird guides and a white horse that meets her on the beach. (Convenient, eh?) The horse takes her into the dark and evil forest, guards close on her heels. The queen orders her brother to find a guide to take them into the forest to find her valuable yet dangerous escapee, and to kill her.
The rest of the film has the duo encountering various characters and creatures, all which leads back to the queen and the big showdown between her and Snow White. Interestingly enough, the seven dwarves don’t really figure as strongly into this version as they do in most others. We do see them during the last section of the film (cinematically shrunken actors-Ian McShane and Bob Hoskins to name a couple- rather than actual little people), but they didn’t really need to be there for the amount of time they are given onscreen. The film ends with Ravenna being destroyed and Snow White sitting on the throne.
What’s that? I haven’t mentioned the actress that plays Snow White? Well, I am about to. Call it saving the worst for last. Actually, I am going to ask a question…can anyone tell me why Kristin Stewart keeps getting cast in big budget films? She has all of the emotional expression of a dust bunny. Any hope this film had of being good was killed by her presence as the key figure of Snow White. By the time she bites the apple that seemingly kills her, I was wondering why we couldn’t have been spared the agony of watching her up until that point by having her ‘bite it’ from the get go. It would have improved things. I would have been more entertained watching Theron and Hemsworth play chess for two hours. The film would have been so much better with an actress that can actually produce different facial expressions. Even TWO facial expressions would have been an improvement.
I feel for the movie goers who shelled out money to see this dud in theaters. I will admit that a part of me toyed with the idea of seeing it on the big screen to see Hemsworth, but I couldn’t bring myself to pay the inflated movie ticket price because of K Stew-movie killer. The person I feel the worst for is Hemsworth. Of all the actors in the film, he spent the most onscreen time with her. Chris was good in the movie, which speaks to his acting chops. I can’t imagine how it was for him acting opposite her. Granted I am not an actor, but I was a member of a theater company for a number of years and know and have worked with some fine actors. Acting is very give and take. Especially in scenes that should be emotionally charged…something Stewart just doesn’t deliver on. They could have cast this cardboard standee of her and gotten just as much emotional range. In a scene where emotions are high, actors should be able to feed off of one another. Chris was on his own as Stewart…well, she can’t act. I know I am not the only one who has noticed this about her. What gives Hollywood? Oy…
Chris Hemsworth does a good job in “Snow White & the Huntsman”, as does Charlize Theron, so if you are a fan of either of them, see it. You’ll have to tough out the abysmal acting of Stewart, but it can be done…I did it…as painful as it was...