movies: Everything’s all White for Kristen Stewart ....
THIS year’s second revisionist take on the Brothers Grimm classic, Snow White & The Huntsman is a visual treat with some expertly staged battle scenes.
It’s a decided improvement on Mirror Mirror, but fails to realise the full potential of its ambitiously dark vision.
Filtering the timeless fairy tale through the prism of The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and countless other film fantasies, it reinvents Snow (a miscast Kristen Stewart) as a warrior princess who launches a battle to reclaim her kingdom from Queen Ravenna (a campy but effective Charlize Theron).
Ravenna kills Snow’s widowed father on their wedding night, then imprisons the princess for a decade in a castle tower until she learns from the magic mirror that consuming Snow’s heart will give her immortality. The queen sends for her stepdaughter, but Snow escapes.
The queen’s magical powers do not extend to the Dark Forest, so she enlists the burly huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to track her down.
The closest this version comes to a prince is a hunky cipher of a baron’s son (Sam Claflin), who completes a half-hearted imitation of the Twilight love triangle once Snow and the huntsman vanquish the queen’s delightfully oily, albino brother (Sam Spruell).
There are eight – not seven – dwarves, all drunken thieves and far from loveable. In a big misstep, the dwarves are digitally reduced versions of such British character actors as Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Toby Jones and Eddie Marsan.
Snow White’s eventual triumph may be preordained, but acting-wise, there’s no contest between Stewart and Theron.
Nobody’s idea of ‘‘the fairest in the land’’, Stewart brings her familiar disaffected and scowling persona to the character. While Stewart does crack a faint smile on occasion, her Snow could use a more ethereal touch, especially when she interacts with the film’s special-effects version of nature. She looks great suited up in armour like Joan of Arc, though.
Theron is the real star, although she’s greatly abetted by Colleen Atwood’s awe-inspiring costumes and special effects that turn her into a flock of ravens and a pool of tar.
Debuting director Rupert Sanders delivers eye candy by the carload, though the results play out out like a sample of the greatest hits of Ridley Scott, Peter Jackson and George Lucas. Snow’s final assault on the queen’s castle may make this a hit, but it takes almost two hours to get there and it felt like three.
This flawed but entertaining epic is called Snow White and the Huntsman, but Hemsworth – who swings a double sword with more brio than Thor’s hammer – gets lost until he’s needed for the climax.
Charlize Theron as the wicked Queen.
Kristen Stewart as Snow.