Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) Directed by Rupert Sanders. With Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth.
Working from a screen story by Evan Daugherty, Rupert Sanders’ Snow White and the Huntsman aims to reinvent a classic tale by putting a contemporary cinematic spin on it, while casting popular faces in the lead roles. Does it work? Sadly, not quite.
Firstly, the positives. The film is beautifully shot with all the hallmarks of a modern day Peter Jackson adventure. Huge, imposing castles offset by grand, mountainous landscapes with CGI monsters and creepy trees. Add to that, the ever sublime Charlize Theron as evil Queen, Ravenna, and things start to look promising.
It’s a shame then, that the film is little more than a hollow shell thanks to a dull script and some weak characterisation. What is frustrating, is that it’s not hard to see the germ of a good idea here. A classic tale will always stand up, no matter how it’s dressed, as long as the story is told with skill and a sense of wit. This has neither.
Into the title role of Snow White, steps Kristen Stewart. Beyond the Twilight saga, Stewart has proven herself a promising actress with good performances in Jake Scott’s Welcome to the Rileys and The Runaways, but here, she looks a mix of either embarrassed or not bothered. It’s hard to think of a recent mainstream performance so lacking in confidence or for that matter, conviction. Such a tentative display is genuinely surprising and hurts the film badly, especially in the latter stages when we’re looking for some fire.
Enjoying herself more, and playing the bad girl with her usual assuredness, is Theron. Her character is by far the most interesting presence on screen, to the point that halfway through, I was wishing the film was just about her. From the beautiful costume design, to over-the-top rantings, Theron plays all the right beats and deserves to be in a better film.
As the ‘Huntsman’ of the story, Chris Hemsworth’s character is more or less redundant. It really does feel like he’s employed as a name on a poster, as opposed to a character in the film, and is thus treated duly.
In all, the film has to be considered a disappointment. It looks the part, but seldom engages where it should. If its narrative thread matched the pretty visuals, we might have been talking about something special, but once Florence and her machine pop up for the final credits song, you’ll be ready to cut this one loose. 2.5/5