It was with some trepidation that I went to a screening of Snow White and The Huntsman. Why? Well I had very mixed feelings. I like Chris Hemsworth and think he is very good as Thor and in The Cabin in the Woods (2012), but the negative, and it is quite a big one, was Kristen Stewart. I have seen several films which she has been in as a youth and now a young woman. Adventureland (2009), Zathura (2005), Panic Room (2002) and of course the Twilight series. I do not find her appealing as an actress and I think in general she is emotionless behind the eyes and very one dimensional. I however was hoping this was merely me projecting based on her recent performances as Bella Swan, who is for me one of the most abhorrent characters in film and literature. So, off I went not really knowing what to expect.
What I got did not clarify my initial feelings when I entered the cinema. Snow White and The Huntsman is a visually stunning film. It is set in changing and mesmerising landscapes and the cinematography and effects are first class. If for no other reason, it is worth the time to see it for its aesthetic qualities. Unfortunately for me there is no other reason to see this film.
Kristen Stewart has that same perpetual look of a mixture of confusion and that she has a whiff of a bad smell on her face for the majority of the film. This was, I had hoped, restricted to Twilight, however I can now conclude it is the actress and not the role. She struggles to show any emotion even in the most emotional and rousing scenes. Late in the film after returning from the dead, she gives a speech designed to rally an army to follow her against an evil magical Queen who they have been hiding from for years. This was the most lacklustre dull performance I have seen in a long time. She is just a painful example of Snow White.
The film is not saved by Charlize Theron, who seems to be overacting to make up for the fact she gets nothing from Stewart. Her portrayal of the evil Queen, Ravenna, is a caricature and is extremely over the top. So Chris Hemsworth to the rescue? No, afraid not. What we have here is Thor with an axe, and an Irish accent which keeps slipping. He is solid enough in a role which requires little of him than to run, swing and axe and be tough, yet it adds little to the film.
I was disappointed to see the Dwarves played by non-small people actors and CGI’ed to look smaller; it gave the film little credibility, but just added to the cast list and more than likely the budget.
Finally, on cast, Sam Spruell, (Hurt Locker (2008)), is cast as the Evil Queens brother. One trait that was passed on by this bloodline was overacting. He was a poor foil to the madness of his sister, exhibiting much the same behaviours, only less convincingly.
The story itself is very standard – betrayal, escape, revenge, coma, battle and victory. Not a great deal needs to be said here except that it all felt like it was in fast forward. The time from when Snow White eats the cursed apple to her awakening is very short and it is still a little confusing as to why she woke. There was a kiss from who the film makers set up to be her Prince Charming, that does not do it, the there is a speech from the Huntsman, she wakes after this, but why I do not know. It is never made clear whether her love is her childhood friend or the man commissioned to capture her for the queen. I do not know whether this is done on purpose, but I think it is a failing. If a classic tale like this is to be told, some certainties need to be maintained, for me the love interest is one. The moral is about love can overcome, and while that is attempted to be portrayed in the overall theme of the film, it is not directly shown by the characters.
Go and see it if you are bored and want to see some great imagery, but do not expect to be entertained by this very flat film.