Monday, June 18, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman

This version of the third Snow White story this year has a few surprises in it, mainly the presence of seven dwarves who really aren't dwarves. But I'm getting ahead of myself. There are a few spoilers below, but not many, because there's not that much to the story.
Snow White (Kristen Stewart)is a pure young princess to the king, but is imprisoned almost immediately in the story by her stepmother (played by Charlize Theron), who kills her new husband, the king, on their wedding night. Suddenly we know that Ravenna is not the good queen. She's assisted in her evilness by her creepy brother, and sends him and The Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) off to find the girl after she escapes from the tower.
The most interesting character -- because the characterizations in this movie are tiresomely thin -- is the Huntsman. As played by Hemsworth, we feel his pain. He lost his wife, and has sunk into drunkenness. But somebody has to venture into the Dark Forest (read "Forbidden Forest" here) to retrieve the girl and her heart for the queen, and the Huntsman is forced into labor for a magical reward. But along the way, the Huntsman -- who doesn't have a name -- finds himself inspired by the princess.
Theron is amazing, simply amazing. The most beautiful woman in the world (in my opinion) is forced, at least in the script, to find young and vital girl after girl so that she can feast on their hearts. It keeps her young. Such is the price of magic. But the heart of Snow White, she is told by the Magic Mirror, will keep her young forever. Immortal and beautiful, which equals power in this realm.
Theron isn't given many lines, but she poses with the best of them. The costumes she wears as the wicked queen are quite remarkable, from Colleen Atwood at her best. And Kristin Stewart, she of Twilight fame, is probably used to having so few lines to get meaning across; she ambles capably from scene to scene, even scaring up some emotion when it's needed.
Perhaps you've figured out that the story is thin, the characters are thinly drawn, but the visual effects, the art direction, are stunning. It's quite remarkable what director Rupert Sanders has been able to do. And it's a good thing he has decent actors to pull together characters who aren't really written on the page.
The movie is about half an hour too long, which makes it drawn out and rather boring. We are treated to the appearance of the seven dwarfs, but even they aren't given much to do. At least they're not made to be the humorous center of the movie (believe me, there is none), except for a small scene with Toby Jones. It's good that these smallish men aren't given cartoonish names, either, like Sneezy or Dopey.
There's a bit of sleight-of-hand with a love interest that's a bit intriguing, but that thread isn't really finished off.
It's dark, it's dreary, it's certainly a bit too long and lags in parts. But you shouldn't miss Theron as the Queen, or those stunning scenes where the art director is king. Thumb's up.


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