Snow White and the Huntsman
This review first appeared in the Sunday Star Times, 24th June 2012
Following the recent “comedy” adaptation of this famous fairy tale, which had a flamboyant Julia Roberts pouting and prancing with alacrity, the “darker” Snow White makes its brooding entrance. Viewers who had already nailed their colours to the Kristen Stewart-helmed adaptation will be pleased to know it’s a grim old affair, from the moment a perpetually sour Charlize Theron uses her beauty as a Trojan horse, ascends the throne and starts wailing her desire for immortality. Although the evil queen is so miserable, quite why she wants to live forever is anyone’s guess. But on with the story.
The good thing about retelling a well-worn fable is the opportunity to mess about with its finer details. Thus, once Snow has escaped into the torturous, hallucinogenic woods, she soon teams up with the huntsman sent to catch her (Chris Hemsworth, complete with Thor haircut dyed dowdy and the twinkle in his eye banished for this role), after which so much time is spent on the Queen’s angsty ageing and am-dram shouting, for a while it looks like this story may dispense with the seven dwarves altogether. But wait – given time, several famous faces (though not bodies) make their appearance, though none is given the screen time or dialogue his stardom (Bob Hoskins, Toby Jones, Ray Winstone) deserves.
With a sinister, supernatural element to the tale, the production is like a cross between Lord of the Rings and a 1998 Madonna video, beautiful in its use of light, colour and photography – even in the narrative lulls, there are some gorgeous moments. However, while the bits that work deliver a lush and captivating film, innovations like the fairy landscape and fantasy animals, though beautifully rendered, seem out of place and simply add minutes to a story that could have done with judicious editing.
It’s Stewart who saves the day – as a heroine who looks stunning in every shot, you can understand why Theron would want rid of her. Hemsworth does a good job in his one emotive scene, but the rest of the characters are too bland to care about. Director Rupert Sanders appears not to have made anything before, so it’s either beginner’s luck or a terrific assistant director that has delivered a half decent movie audiences may consider worthy of its hype.