SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN


One of those films that once you leave, your first thought is, “Wow, that movie is going to get a lot of technical nominations at the Oscars next year”.  It’s stunning to look at with amazing costumes by Colleen Atwood; frightening art direction and set design too many people to list; and incredibly beautiful cinematography by Grieg Fraser.  But as for story, etc., well that’s another cup of tea.  It’s one of those cautionary tales (like Network) about what happens when you let a woman try to do a man’s job.  Charlize Theron plays a wicked queen who doesn’t want power, just power over men; she doesn’t want to rule, but just stay eternally young and beautiful and is willing to walk all over any other woman who gets in her way.  Yes, there’s an unpleasant whiff of misogyny and fear of strong women here and there in the movie, but it’s not all the fault of director Rupert Sanders or the writers Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini.  There is that source material (can anyone imagine a king being bothered to say “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the handsomest of them all”).  But I did feel like they pushed it a bit here.  Kristen Stewart plays Snow White.  She’s very effective when she isn’t saying anything.  Her eyes and the shape of her face are incredibly expressive; one can’t look away.  This effectiveness is at times unfortunately lessened when she has lines to say (again, to be fair, the dialog does fall a bit flat here and there).  Chris Helmsworth is the huntsman and has the same problem: he’s handsome and has presence out the whazoo (though with not quite so expressive a face), but he also has to speak at times.  And the result, unfortunately, are two characters whose relationship is suppose to be the heart of the story, yet there is almost no charisma or heat between the actors.  Then there’s the problem of the seven dwarfs.  I expect that I will be laughed at here for taking political correctness a bit too far, but I was actually offended that these characters weren’t played by little people, but by better known character actors whose faces were CGI’d onto dwarf-like bodies (not always that well, I thought, though my friend Jim disagreed—he though the SFX people did an excellent job here).  I’m sorry, but it felt a bit too much like black face; are you really telling me you couldn’t find seven small actors to play these rolls (Time Bandits didn’t seem to have the same problem)?  There was also the additional issue in that half the time I wasn’t listening to anything they were saying, instead just trying to remember where I knew that actor from (Bob Hoskins really threw me for some reason).  The whole story climaxes with a battle scene that is begun with Snow White in Joan of Arc drag delivering a rousing speech to the soldiers she will lead, like Henry V before the Battle of Agincourt (talk about mixing metaphors).  At least that was the intent.  It was so unimpressive to me, I’m afraid, that all I could think is that Stewart is no Lawrence Olivier or Kenneth Branagh and the writers no Shakespeare (the very next night I saw the episode of Game of Thrones where Peter Dinklage was required to do the same thing and did it so brilliantly, that I realized that Oliver or Shakespeare wasn’t necessarily necessary for something like this to work).  In the end, the movie is big and over the top and really goes for the juggler.  And though it wasn’t to my taste, I do have to give fare due and say Jim loved it and highly recommends it.  So decide for yourself.
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