Snow White and the Huntsman – 2012
Director Rupert Sanders
Starring Charleze Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Stewart, Sam Clafin, Sam Spruell, Ian McShane, Toby Jones, Bob Hoskins, Nick Frost, Ray Winstone, Eddie Marsan, Brian Gleeson,Johnny Harris
Screenplay Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock, Hossein Ameni
Julia Roberts probably wanted to fire her agent after watching Snow White and The Huntsman. Surely if you asked her, she would say that she made the film “for the kids,” but there comes a point where you’ve got to tell the kids they’ve got something to look forward to when they grow up. This is a film that lives up to the Grimm name.
In this version of the tale, the Queen is a truly terrifying piece of work: a combination of evil, magic and insanity. How she takes over the kingdom is clever. Why she lets the King’s daughter lived is, well, because without her there is no story. Theron’s performance is worth the price of admission, as her character is truly beautifully terrifying, unique and powerful. She hasn’t been so powerful in a film since Monster.
The Huntsman is an entertaining character, both as written and performed. Hemsworth has become a reliable stud character actor, adding just enough character to be somewhat entertaining, but not so much as to be overdone. The power of his presence was clear in what could have been considered a throwaway role in the Star Trek reboot.
Hemsworth’s counterpart, William, Duke of Hammond, as played by Claflin has the appeal of any of the myriad young actors that played opposite The Duke, John Wayne in all of his big studio productions, This is to say that he is young, handsome and somewhat vacant. I am not sure the role demanded much more than that, but it sure couldn’t have hurt.
The Dwarves are remarkable and original, if only because of the quality of actors that they hired to play them. McShane, Hoskins, Frost, Jones and Winstone are some of the best character actors going today. Sanders was wise enough to let the actors insert their own personalities into the characters. This allowed them to seem more valiant, resourceful and complete characters.
Queen Ravenna’s brother and enforcer is an original character, creepily inhabited by Spruell. His menace mixed with helplessness merges him chained with his sister. They both are victims to the spell that makes them powerful and subjugates them to a never-ending quest for lives feed on. One wishes that they could have found a way to give him even more screen time, as the film seems lacking when he is not present.
The character that needs the most development in the story has, unfortunately, the least realized. Snow White is celebrated into the holder of life in this tale. From she all beautiful things abound. Wordlessness, at times is a benefit to this concept. Silence with the perpetual half-scowl that Stewart emits works better for the femme fatale role of Bella, from the Twilight films, and not as much for the source of light in this dark tale. Granted, she seems to know her way around an action scene and seeing her in medieval armor does not seem out-of-place. By the end, though, she gives a few pained facial expressions come across as odd. In essence, we still have no clue who she really is.
Sanders definitely knows his way around a lens. There are few scenes in the film which are not filled with some kind of beauty: sad, dark or vibrantly alive. The action is crisp, if illogical at times (like the “now she’s lost them-now she hasn’t” escape). The vision he has of this world is fantastic in both darkness and light. The pace is consistent and keeps within arms length of the original tale while providing mind-blowing effects that are part of the story instead of being a “look what I can do.”
Snow White and The Huntsman is a worthy reimagining of a tale that has grown somewhat stale. There was a sequel in the works that is in development hell due to poor personal choices. If it remains a single movie, the film stands on its own merit.
(**** out of *****)