Monday, June 04, 2012

Snow White vs. Stepmom

(Published in City Express, The New Indian Express, on June 3, 2012, retrieved from http://expressbuzz.com/entertainment/reviews/snow-white-and-the-huntsman/397619.html)





Cast: Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Ray Winstone, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones
Director: Rupert Sanders
Rating: 3 stars
The first thing I learnt about this film was that it had a Prince William (played by Sam Claflin). When I saw the posters, I had this image of Kristen Stewart playing a mournful Kate Middleton, recycling her wardrobe with knick-knacks from the seven dwarves. First surprise: There are eight dwarves. No, seven. No, eight. That’s beside the point.
This is the second Snow White movie to release here in the last couple of months or so. And there’s a lot the two have in common, beginning with a once-sought-after woman lead playing the evil stepmother – Julia Roberts in Mirror Mirror, and Charlize Theron here. Both films benefit from lovely artistic design, and the imagination of their directors. Both films are held back by insipid acting and the limitations of the storyline.
Snow White and the Huntsman is particularly frustrating, because it obviously has the potential to be something else, but is let down in execution. First of all, you’re stumped for logic. If a queen can conjure up black birds that do her bizarre bidding, most of which requires them to turn into other creatures or objects, why does she need actual human blood to stay young?!
Second of all, after watching Breaking Dawn a few months ago, I half-expect Kristen Stewart to stick a straw into any container of blood she finds and start sucking. Probably because she looks more like Bella Swan than herself – and somehow, every story she’s in seems to evolve into that strange love triangle where two men who love her will form an alliance to protect her, an alliance which requires one of them to play traitor.
The triteness of the story is somewhat relieved by the spectacle of the film – there are some truly wonderful scenes, most of which feature Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron). Her transformations – and those of her mirror – are very nicely done. The inhabitants of the Dark Forest, from which Snow White is rescued by The Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), and those of the fairyland are arresting.
But you do groan when the computer-generated monsters make their appearance. And you do wish the film didn’t stretch quite so much in the middle. When the final battle begins, you’re relieved. However, that lasts rather longer than it should too. Well, I suppose it did take that long to lay siege on a castle before LMGs and missiles were invented. But hey, we didn’t sign up to watch all these folks draw out their mediaeval battles, huh?
The Verdict: The film doesn’t offer anything fantastically new or gripping; but it’s a good enough ride if you’re into pretty frames and enchanted tales.

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