Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Movie Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

Charlize Theron
Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
Directed by: Rupert Sanders
Starring: Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth

In a year when not one, but two, Snow White adaptations hit the big screens, you'd be hard-pressed to decide which of these two mediocre outings was more fairer than the other -- the kids flick Mirror Mirror or this decidedly more adult update, Snow White and the Huntsman?

This time around, first-time feature film director Rupert Sanders concocts an ambitious, if flawed, rehashing of the famous fairy tale geared towards the Twilight crowd.

Princess Snow (Kristen Stewart) is raised by her wicked and vain step-mother Ravenna (Charlize Theron) after her father dies suddenly when she's still a child. While Ravenna tears the country apart in her quest for eternal youth and beauty, Snow is locked away until her eventual escape at the age of 18. Ravenna, who refuses to allow the rightful heir to the throne to just wander the countryside raising armies, hires a huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to track down her whereabouts. What follows next is a meandering plot that involves a lot of long walks through various fantastical forests and a cluttered battle sequence as the grand finale.

Sanders is no Guillermo del Toro, nor is he even a Tarsem Singh, but, if nothing else, Sanders should be given credit for at least trying his hand at a more grown-up glimpse of an oft-repeated story. He has an eye for outlandish, fantastical elements and, combined with the costumes by Oscar winner Colleen Atwood, the movie has some visually stunning moments. It's just a shame that the script is so ploddingly dull.

It's Theron who rides away with the film -- her entertaining, scenery-chewing performance as Ravenna is the lone highlight. However, the plot comes to a standstill the moment the action moves away from Theron and focuses on Stewart and Hemsworth arguing their way through dark forests and fairy sanctuaries. Even an impressive who's-who of British acting vets in the roles of the seven dwarves are unable to liven the script (the heads of Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane and Nick Frost, among others, are CGI-ed over the faces of the little people doing the actual footwork, an unfortunate decision).

Ultimately, the story falters under the weight of its patchy script and lifeless performances from two of its three leads. With the non-existent chemistry between Stewart and Hemsworth, audiences wouldn't be blamed for wanting Ravenna to win and defeat them both.