Hemsworth and Stewart show range in ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’
Snow White and the Huntsman takes a Lord of the Rings-ish darker twist on the classic tale of Snow White with more dastardly deeds, more CGI effects, more rousing battle speeches and some spectacular costumes by Colleen Atwood. The film also shows us that Kristen Stewart can be more than a wooden, one-dimensional vampire girlfriend and that Chris Hemsworth is more than just a finely chiseled body.
Most people remember Snow White from the classic Disney film, but this yanks that tale from the idyllic land of cartoon dwarves and takes it to Mordor. Stewart stars as the titular character, a princess locked in a tower by the evil queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) who is on a Madonna-like quest to stay forever young and pretty. When Ravenna’s magic mirror tells her that she’s not, in fact, the fairest in all the land, she goes ape shit and decides she has to kill Snow White and eat her heart like some sort of dastardly spa treatment. When Snow White manages to escape, Ravenna enlists the help of a drunken, surly huntsman (Hemsworth) to track her down and bring her back to the castle to commence heart ripification. When The Huntsman encounters the princess, he decides to spare her and ends up falling in love with her. But, like with Twilight, Stewart has two cute boys simultaneously desiring her when her old friend William (Sam Claflin) comes back into the picture.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Snow White without the dwarves, who don’t appear until about halfway in. With some CGI tweaks, we see recognizable actors as little people who agree to help Snow White and her Huntsman in a quest to put and end to Ravenna. Ian McShane leads the gang, which also includes Nick Frost, Ray Winstone, Bob Hoskins, Eddie Marsan, Johnny Harris, Toby Jones and Brian Gleeson. These guys don’t have names like Sleepy or Happy; they carry swords and make wise cracks.
Calling Stewart the “fairest of them all” is a stretch, but she does look much better with her natural eye color and some black hair. She also shows us that, with a decent script and an English accent, she can be a pretty decent actress. It’s refreshing to see her do something beyond mope about over her sparkly vampire boyfriend.
Theron serves Mommy Dearest-level drama with her over-the-top portrayal of the evil queen. She’s quiet and wicked one minute and loud and frightening the next, but it can turn into a Christian Bale Batman situation where sometimes it seems the voice and hugeness of her performance can get a bit out of control.
The real standout is Hemsworth, and not just because he’s also completely gorgeous. We mostly know him as the hunky god of thunder from Thor and The Avengers, but he shows off some real acting skills here, particularly in his tearful speech to a presumed-dead Snow White. And yes, he also looks really, really, super hot.
The film is visually spectacular with scenery and desaturated color grading reminiscent of the second Lord of the Rings film, The Two Towers. Atwood’s costumes are scene stealing and I often found myself more wrapped up in what Revenna was wearing than in Theron’s performance itself. A dress lined with bird skulls on the collar and the raven feather gown are absolutely stunning and add a real uniqueness to the film.
It may be difficult for Snow White and the Huntsman to find an audience. It’s too dark for the Twi-hards, but not dark enough for those looking for a serious departure from the Disney fairytale. Still, it’s worth seeing just to marvel at Atwood’s beautiful masterpieces and Director of Photography Greig Fraser’s visuals and to see two well-known stars expand their ranges.