In this version, Kristen Stewart (“Twilight: Breaking Dawn”) plays the titular Snow White. She has spent her formative years as a prisoner of the evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron, “Young Adult”). Ravenna seized control of the kingdom by deceiving, marrying and murdering Snow White’s father the King.
Of course, the evil queen is a sorceress, using the energy of the young to maintain her own beauty. However, her magic mirror tells her that by taking Snow White’s heart – she is the fairest of them all, after all – Ravenna can live forever.
Unfortunately for her, Snow White escapes just as the queen learns this, so she needs to send someone into the Dark Forest to bring Snow White back. That’s where the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth, “The Avengers”) comes in; he is enlisted to bring Snow White back to the Queen. As you might expect, he has a change of heart and winds up promising to help her defeat Ravenna’s forces.
And worry not – there will be dwarves.
“Snow White and the Huntsman” uses the original fairy tale as more of a template than anything else. Unfortunately, the end result is a film that is weirdly paced and awkwardly written. It’s not even all that interesting stylistically – everything feels very clinical and antiseptic, even the moments that are intended to be vibrant and colorful. The audience is left to meander through two-plus hours of very dull, very inconsistent storyline.
Not to mention the fact that the filmmakers seem to view Snow White as a combination of Joan of Arc and Neo from “The Matrix.”
It might have been different had the quality of performance been there to elevate things. Unfortunately, when Kristen Stewart is your lead, there isn’t anything being elevated. It’s difficult to imagine the passionless, dead-eyed Stewart as “the fairest” of anything. It’s a standard Stewart performance – dull stares punctuated by occasional attempts at what we humans call “emotion.” When she tries to smile, it looks like she’s thinking about how we would taste.
Theron spends the entire movie at 11 (rumor has it she actually damaged her vocal cords from screaming so much); it’s a bit over-the-top, but with Stewart moping her way through the movie, even histrionic emotion is better than nothing. Hemsworth’s huntsman is actually a nice representation of the fairy tale hero; a stolid, salt-of-the-earth type with loads of courage and a past full of heartbreak. He looks great swinging an axe.
A quick note: The dwarves are woefully underutilized here – especially considering the casting. Bob Hoskins (“Outside Bet”), Ian McShane (“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”), Nick Frost (“Attack the Block”), Ray Winstone (“Hugo”) and Toby Jones (“The Hunger Games”) – highly-regarded British actors all – are all wonderful parts of the dwarf crew. More scenes of their exploits and fewer of Snow White staring blankly at stuff might have improved things significantly.
“Snow White and the Huntsman” isn’t even bad enough to be interesting. It might have been all right, but with the charmless Stewart as “the fairest of them all,” this movie didn’t stand a chance.
1 out of 5