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Snow White and the Huntsman: Lackluster but Darkly Beautiful

Director: Rupert Sanders
Screenplay: Evan Daugherty, web John Lee Hancock, Hossein Amini
Release Date: June 1, 2012
Actors: Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin

The trailers for “Snow White and the Huntsman” looked interesting, at least more than when the news first came out that Kristen Stewart had been chosen to play Snow White. Full disclosure: I am not a Twilight fan nor am I a Kristen Stewart fan. I’ve been able to find talent underneath Robert Pattinson’s sparkly skin in other films he has done, but Kristen Stewart has not managed to do much for me in other films she has been in.

So, how did Kristen Stewart fare in this new retelling of the famous fairytale? Not well, in my opinion. In fact, she is clearly what brought down the quality of the film from what could have been great to simply “just okay”. Charlize Theron brings all her talent to the table as Ravenna, the evil Queen who has a strong hatred for men and has been somewhat cursed with a magical beauty at a price. Seeking to be the fairest one of them all due to a spell her mom cast on her when she was very young, she is stuck trying to remain beautiful in order to manipulate what she wants. She hires the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to capture Snow White so the evil Queen can claim her beating heart to break the curse and live in all eternity with her beauty. Snow White had been locked up for 10 years since her father’s death before she escaped, having lived in a tower imprisoned by her evil stepmother. Kristen Stewart plays Snow White, known for her physical and unmatched innocence, pure heart and beauty. She escapes early on and is determined to bring down the evil queen with the help of the Huntsman.

There are several problems with this film, one of which is the casting of Kristen Stewart as Snow White. There is no doubt she looks the role with her dark brown hair and fair skin. Snow White is supposed to be the purest of them all, the one in the fairy tales that is connected deeply with all animals, nature and the people. Her pure heart shines through and inner joy can be seen in all her mannerisms. That is who she is. That is what they tried to give to her, but instead of really showing us, it was told and not only that, worse, it felt forced. Almost all the scenes Kristen were in that involved showing her connection with nature and bringing about a sense of goodness simply felt forced. This also applied to almost every scene in which she shared with another actor. There simply was no chemistry, especially when one would expect between the Huntsman and Snow White. I felt all of the supporting actors did a great job with what they had to work with, but Kristen Stewart was simply wrong for the role. The one scene in which I felt she was organic and did well was she was rallying up soldiers to fight and the scenes thereafter. However, I was again let down when she met up with the Evil Queen and the very lackluster ending with her heaving up and down, a mistake that Emma Watson did often during Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It was distracting. Her expression is always the same, with her mouth open. I’ve seen her do better in other films.

Having said that, the positives of Snow White and the Huntsman were definitely Charlize Theron, the soundtrack thanks to James Newton Howard, and the wonderful dark visuals offered by Rupert Sanders who did a wonderful job bringing his vision of the world of Snow White to life. I love a dark take on popular stories, especially those of fairy tales (as they are truer to the original story than the Disney re-tellings). The main weakness besides Kristen Stewart was the lack of fleshing out the role of the evil Queen. We are shown with short glimpses why Ravenna is as messed up as she is, and why she has been cursed with this unparalleled desire to stay young and beautiful, but we never get to the heart of it. Ravenna always seems to be on the edge of shattering to a million pieces due to how bitter and angry she is, but the reason escapes the audience, as it did me. Theron did the best she could given the script and even added another dimension to her role, but due to the script never fully explaining her character, viewers will only be left with a bunch of questions.

Chris Hemsworth does a very good job as the drunkard Huntsman, and Sam Claflin, though in few frames, does what he can do as the Duke’s son and Snow White’s childhood friend of William.

The movie felt very long, and some scenes in the dark forest could have been edited out, including those scenes in which the dwarfs, Snow White and the Huntsman are climbing up a mountain with the cliff just to the left of them. Those just screamed “Lord of the Rings” to me, and they were not needed as they didn’t add anything to the film. I also felt the dwarfs were introduced too late into the film, never allowing the audience to make any sort of connection with them, except for one (of which I shalt not spoil).

In the end, due to the awkward and unbelievable scenes involving Kristen Stewart, this movie ends up just being okay. Had any other actor who found the right balance between edgy and of pure heart found its way on screen, Snow White and the Huntsman would have been great, despite the few editing and pacing issues.

If you like Kristen Stewart or love Charlize Theron, I would highly recommend. Otherwise, I would say just wait for the DVD. 2 apples / 5 apples

Links:
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