SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN
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In spite of its many flaws — a script that lacks a narrative center, zero chemistry between its two miscast leads, and a senseless proclivity for incongruous battle sequences — “Snow White and the Huntsman” manages to entertain.
Much of the credit for the film’s marginal success goes to Charlize Theron as the black-hearted Queen Ravenna. She eats the hearts of baby birds from the cradle of their tiny broken eggs. Theron doesn’t merely chew the scenery; she makes it levitate and shatter around her. So long as Theron is on-screen, the movie soars. When she is not, the film flags like a boat with a not-so-slow leak.
Coming fast on the heels of Tarsem Singh’s comically oriented version of the same story, newbie director Rupert Sanders’s broodingly violent adaptation sticks in the mud as much as it glides. A more experienced director was clearly called for, considering the film’s ambitious artistic scope. Kristen Stewart carries her agape-mouthed characterization from the “Twilight” movies too much with her here. A clunky attempt at posing Stewart’s Snow White as a Joan-of-Arc-knock-off sends the movie spinning out of control in the third act. Still, the worst bit of miscasting falls on Chris Hemsworth, whose Hollywood saturation level has past its due date. Let’s just say, Hemsworth is not the next Heath Ledger that casting agents imagine him to be.
The special effects team performs an admirable job of inventing compelling creatures and fantasy atmospheres. An especially neat trick involves shrinking down actors such as Ian McShane, Nick Frost, and Toby Jones to dwarf-size. Sadly, the script doesn’t take as much advantage of the “seven dwarves” opportunity as Tarsem Singh did for his lighthearted version.
The film’s triad committee of screenwriters, that includes “Drive’s” Hossein Amini, clearly want to pull the Snow White fairy tale into the realm of pure horror. Blood drops on white snow present a gothic vision straight out of a Hammer Horror film of the ‘60s. Queen Ravena’s dark shenanigans spray an inky black splatter wherever she directs her attention. Nonetheless, unintentional plot devices — such as a white horse that appears on a desolate beach — jar the viewer with unintended humor. There’s a lot to appreciate, and a lot to ignore in a movie that needed a more experienced director to properly pull off.
Rated PG-13. 127 mins.