Mirror, mirror on the wall, is telling me that Kristen Stewart is the fairest of them all? Fairer than Charlize Theron? I don’t believe it, and you won’t either when you watch “Snow White and the Huntsman.” If by fairest, the mirror means that she’s pastier and more chipmunk-like in appearance, then yes Kristen Stewart is definitely the fairest of them all.
Even though the movie is a fairy tale, first-time director Rupert Sanders and his writers expect you to buy into some pretty farfetched ideas. Kristen Stewart being the most beautiful woman in the land is just one of them.
Stewart’s Snow White is supposed to be so lovely and pure, that the vain queen Ravenna (Theron) wants to kill her. Ravenna sends The Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to track Snow White down, but he has a change of heart after meeting her. With help from some dwarves, The Huntsman takes Snow White under his wing and finds her protection so that she can rise up against the queen.
This movie wants you to think that Snow White is an independent warrior, despite her almost complete reliance on men. The film markets itself as fresh spin on a classic story because of its emphasis on swashbuckling action, but in reality it suffers from “Fellowship of the Ring” syndrome: more walking than doing. There are a few minor skirmishes where the men protect Snow White, and one brief conflict where she fights Ravenna.
Kristen Stewart’s performance in “Snow White and the Huntsman” is her least wooden to date. She still keeps her mouth agape most of the picture, although you actually see her smile a couple of times. Both Stewart and Theron seem like they’ve been spending too much time at the Al Pacino School of Acting, where they confuse yelling for showing emotion. Theron especially, does a lot of screaming, without showing great depth to her character. She seems to rely more on her vile fashion accessories than her dialogue to tell the audience that she’s wicked.
The best acting in the film comes from Chris Hemsworth, who gives The Huntsman a strange lower-class accent which sounds somewhat Irish. His narration of Snow White’s back story in the film’s opening is oddly enjoyable. The Huntsman may be the archetypal macho guy with a haunted by his past, yet Hemsworth really convinces you that his character’s head is filled with grief and self-doubt.
Instead of hiring actual little people to play Snow White’s clan of faithful dwarves, Sanders and his team employ special effects on famous regular-sized actors. These talented men excel in their roles; however it just seems wrong not to hire real little people. Because little people already aren’t given enough opportunities in Hollywood to shine, taking away parts from them, just further limits their exposure. Anyone who loves “Time Bandits” for its standout performances from little people will agree that they deserve more chances to showcase their acting chops.
All of that negativity aside, there are a few moments when newcomer Rupert Sanders shows some visual flair. Some of Ravenna’s magic is really cool, like her black nail soldiers or the way she transforms into a flock of birds. In addition, one particular scene involving a village on fire looks gorgeous as the Huntsman navigates the flames.
If you thought that Tarsem Singh’s “Mirror Mirror” was too silly, you’ve probably been looking forward to a more serious take on Snow White. Even with a different tone, “Snow White and the Huntsman” is dissatisfying for its bad acting and lackluster action. Too bad 2012, just isn’t the year for Snow White.
My Grade: C-