November 30, 2012

by Derek Defoe

Oscar winner Charlize Theron and MTV Movie Award winner Kristen Stewart star along with the guy who plays Thor in an updated version of the classic Snow White tale. It's more frank and it's augmented to be more of a sweeping epic, which I don't really take much issue with because I think we all have a stubborn impulse built into ourselves to believe that all the Disney-fied versions of fairy tales are the most accurate representations, which is far from true, not that I'm a scholar on Snow White but if you were to tell me the original text had dwarves with names like Sleepy and Bashful then I'd be very surprised.

Speaking of the dwarves, I was very impressed with the trickery used to make actors such as Ian McShane, Nick Frost, Toby Jones, and Bob Hoskins appear to be little people. Honestly, when they first appeared, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. Very good job.

The movie as a whole is filled with visual majestry, it's a very beautiful looking movie though it's hard to ignore that it seems to be tonally inspired by the works of Guillermo Del Toro and Peter Jackson. I'm sure Lord of the Rings wasn't the first movie in the history of cinema to include swooping shots of hills and mountains but it feels a little bit derivative. But not to the extent that I'd say it's a blatant rip-off of the style though. I have no idea who this Rupert Sanders guy is (other than what I've read on TMZ) and I have no idea how he landed a debut directing gig with a 170+ million dollar budget but hey, good for him. He has a keen approach to the visual nature of his movie.

As for the story, it's pretty basic. We all know the outline. It doesn't over-complicate things, which is nice, but it doesn't help any of the plot and ESPECIALLY any of the dialogue with giving it any kind of flavor, and I think when it comes to material like this it really boils down to the actors involved and if they can make it work. Charlize Theron is a pro, as far as I'm concerned this is her movie, she's in a world of her own, making for a wicked villain but one with just a little bit of dimension; she's still stone cold but we can understand her drive and understand why she's doing what she's doing other than the fact that it's required by the plot. And I really found a new appreciation for Chris Hemsworth. Yeah he's an Australian hunk and he's ripped like a God and he's tons of fun as the lovable Thor but I see hints of a great actor here. He has barely anything to work with but damn he does a good job with it.

And then there's Kristen Stewart. Okay, really, I'm not one to bandwagon, I haven't even seen any of the Twilight films except the first one and that was on a crappy bootleg when it first came out, and I don't feel like I have anything against her in any way, but she's the weak link in this cast. Given the fact that she's the title character, this is a problem. First off, in like, the first 40 minutes or so, she barely has any lines and when she does finally start speaking up it felt like the character had no real personality whatsoever. The only time she conveys any kind of emotion is near the end where she's giving this rousing speech to inspire everyone but at that point it was way too little way too late and I wasn't buying any of this "queen of the people" stuff.

Snow White and the Hunstman is a great film from an aesthetic standpoint, and other than some fault I found with Stewart, I'd say the rest of the cast delivers on some mediocre material. It's just that it ultimately doesn't mesh as well as it all should. The CRUCIAL chemistry of the two leads is seriously lacking. Like supposedly in the middle of all this, Snow White and that hunstman are falling in love, or maybe he's just falling in love with her. It's hard to tell. She shoots him some looks here and there but by the end of it all I'm not sure what it's supposed to mean. Are we left with two people who became close after their journey but because of their positions, their love is impossible? Are they in love and is there hope for it, afterall? Or is the huntsman's love simply unrequited? Bitch, his kiss brought you back to life.

Directed by
Rupert Sanders

Produced by
Sam Mercer
Palak Patel
Joe Roth

Screenplay by
Evan Daugherty
John Lee Hancock
Hossein Amini

Story by
Evan Daugherty

Based on
Snow White by the Brothers Grimm

Kristen Stewart
Charlize Theron
Chris Hemsworth
Sam Claflin
Sam Spruell

Music by
James Newton Howard

Greig Fraser
Gavin Free

Edited by
Conrad Buff
Neil Smith