Aimless Script, Kristen Stewart Sink ‘Snow White & The Huntsman’
By STEWART SMITH
Kristen Stewart is the worst actress on the planet and "Snow White & The Huntsman" is proof. But more on that in a bit.
Some people sneered when trailers for this movie first showed up, scoffing at the seeming intersection of the traditional fairy tale with a "Lord of the Rings" flare, complete with stampeding arm-ies, fantastical beasties and a warrior princess. The good news is that most of the elements fit surprisingly well within the larger world that the film establishes. They feel like natural extensions of the story than something crammed in to fit a desired aesthetic.
The ground-breaking Disney film has become so ubiquitous and so closely associated with the character of Snow White that it's sometimes easy to forget the Grimm version even exists (although the same could be said for most of the Grimm tales that Disney adapted). The point is that there's plenty of room within these fairy tales for alternative takes (especially considering how the Disney versions are essentially alternative takes in and of themselves) and the fantastical nature of the stories lend themselves to incorporating elements such as massive bridge trolls, faery forests and, yes, even a warrior princess.
This version of the story has Snow White (Kristen Stewart) has locked in a tower for more than a decade. Her stepmother, the thoroughly eeeevil Ravenna (Charlize Theron), lusts for power and eternal youth. She gains one by quite literally sucking the youth from fair maidens and the other by employing the use of arcane magicks. She's content to keep Snow White locked away, until her magic mirror (which, for some reason, melts off the wall and into the image of a cloaked guy? Way to needlessly modify such a simple concept...) informs Ravenna that the Snow is the most beautiful girl in the land and that consuming her heart will allow Ravenna to live forever.
Let's stop right here for a moment.
I'm not trying to imply that Kristen Stewart is unattractive or ugly or what have you. But to try and make audiences think she has beauty that somehow surpasses that of someone like Charlize Theron is just kind of silly. But I digress.
So yeah, Snow White is destined to end Ravenna's reign of eternal youth and terror. But before she can consume the girl's heart, Snow manages to escape. And since not just anyone can traipse through the Dark Forest, Ravenna employs the services of The Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to, er, hunt Snow down. I guess this was still in the days when your name was decided upon by one's trade since no one ever calls Hemsworth's character anything other than "Huntsman." He could be named Bob for all we know, but again, I digress.
Anyway, Bob heads out in search of Snow (which, by the way, no one ever actually calls her by her name, save for Bob during his opening narration), but when it's revealed why the queen wants her (as well as the fact that Ravenna can't revive Bob's dead wife as he was promised), Bob decides he'd rather defy Ravenna's orders and runs off with Snow.
To where? How will he protect her? For how long? No clue. The movie never specifies any of this stuff. Things just sort of happen for the remainder of the movie without much rhyme or reason behind them. We eventually learn that Snow has some sort of mystical destiny to fulfill, but who cares?
I mean that literally. Does anyone care about yet another boring "destined hero" story? I sure as heck don't. What's worse is that we're never really given a reason to root for Snow. (I'm just going to keep repeating her first name because it is seriously the stupidest name ever when you think about it and it's no wonder no one ever says her name out loud in the film.) She is an empty vessel, a vacant lot. And I'm not just talking about Kristen Stewart's acting. There is nothing to the character as written. We learn nothing about her, why forest monsters seem to respect her or why she should be destined to defeat an evil queen.
This is, of course, only amplified by the fact that Stewart is an abhorrent actress, incapable of expressing any form of emotion other than this slightly bewildered look that makes it seem more like she's got indigestion than even the most basic set of human emotions. There's a scene where Snow is being "anointed" (or something) by a mythical stag, a creature so amazing and fantastical and impossible that most people didn't know it existed, and yet the only expression Stewart can muster makes it seem like she's thinking about what to eat from the catering truck. Don't even get me started on the "inspirational" speech she spouts at the end which somehow immediately convinces a bunch of soldiers and farmers to fight alongside despite having never met her.
So it's a mostly aimless story with an empty lead character and a vacant lead actress. Is there anything worthwhile in the movie? Surprisingly, yes.
All of the aforementioned problems are amplified because there's actually quite a bit to like about "Snow White & The Huntsman." For one, aesthetically speaking, this is a great-looking movie. The script may be weak, but the visual palette is excellent with some wonderful production and art design that is often quite striking. If first-time director Rupert Sanders can get a decent script next time, he might actually put out a pretty good movie, such is his eye for cinematography and helping to establish a world.
Secondly, Charlize Theron seems to have taken some cues from Al Pacino in the '90s and decided to just swallow scenery whole. She's quietly clearly having an absolute blast as Ravenna and just vamps all over the place, playing the role as big and broad as possible and giving the whole thing a hammy sense of fun.
Finally, it's a great year to be Chris Hemsworth. "The Avengers" and "Cabin in the Woods" are enough to constitute a successful run, but he manages to come out on top here as well, buoying what would otherwise be a relative disaster. Most of his emotional moments are unearned in the script, but he sells them regardless.
It's a shame that Sanders had to bow to studio pressure to hire Stewart because with just about anyone else in the part, the film might've stood a better chance at being something memorable and fun (even with that awful, cliche script).
Stewart Smith is the Entertainment Editor for the
Tyler Morning Telegraph
. Contact him at 903-596-6301 or by e-mail at email@example.com