Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Theron of Them All : Snow White and The Huntsman

I wanted to really sink my teeth into the dark fairytale of Snow White and The Huntsman. But I couldn't and for the reason simply being there was not enough to sink into.

The film, started with great promise, lush and dark colors hinting that this would be the grimmest retelling of the story and not the high-camp-fluff of the Julia Roberts clone Mirror, Mirror. No, this had serious actors, like Charlize Theron, Ian McShane, Nick Frost, THOR (Chris Hemsworth) and of course, K-Stew.

This. Is. A. Serious. Movie, Guys.

Despite its early promise, a really cool breaking out of the evil castle scene done by Snow White, the movie gets stuck right when things should pick up. For starters, Kirsten Stewart was miscast. That is one of the pivotal sins of this movie and I saw this hoping that Stewart would break free from her Bella rut of passivity and one-note facial expressions, but oh no, I was wrong. Instead from time to time, I could have sworn I was watching Twilight and that's not a good thing. The character for Snow White and the Huntsman is ideally a feminist character (note: ideally) and she's supposed to be unlike that other Snow White who waits around waiting for her prince to come... someday. Nope, not this one. Our new Snow White jumps out of castles, yells, runs in armor, slashes faces, coming for the throne all the while remaining painfully awkward and still, waiting for someone more equipped to do the rest of the job, like fighting the bad guys and oh yeah, ripping her own dress.

At one moment, in a bizarre rallying cry, she inspires her legion of followers to uprise against the evil Queen, Ravenna but all she can muster is "use me as a weapon!"

What? Use YOU?  Um, no.

And while it would be easy to blame Stewart for the lag in Snow White and Huntsman its essentially the writing that does more damage than any poisoned apple could. It's clunky and trope-o-rific, Snow White is the destine one, her beauty is pure and innocent, she is pure and innocent and repeat. As you can see there is little character development here.

However, all is not lost in the dark forest. While Stewart may be the odd choice, supporting actors in this movie really do carry the film and carry they do try. Theron is magnificent, cruel and oh so glamorous in couture pieces that most fashionistas would froth over. The evil queen has complexity and makes for good screen time whenever we see Theron and her icy eyes. She radiates evil and contempt for men all the while devouring the youth of virginal peasant girls. Part of the premise of Snow White makes for good feminist critique: only the purest and fairest can defeat Ravenna? Yet, Ravenna's tragedy is that the very same qualities that were ideal for her success are also her tools for destruction. Despite Theron's candor, there is still room for improvement, Theron's evil queen is decidedly evil but makes too much of a show by screaming how evil she is. What's more, with such a stellar performance from Theron is the audience really expected to believe that Stewart is the fairest among them?

Running at an almost over-indulgent 2 hours, Snow White and The Huntsman manages to delivers the goods on special effects (price of admission for the Dark Forest and a screen by screen rip off of Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke) Braveheart and Lord of the Rings fantasy and war portions with a healthy dose of cross-cultural European influences with a decidedly American cast.  It's not the grimmest it should have been or could have been, the potential is staggering in the first half and loses its cool during the second right around when we see Ravenna lose hers. In time for the onslaught of the summer blockbusters, its good but not great, dark but not sinister, plausible but not convincing. But most damning of all, new but not revelatory.

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