Review: Snow White and the Huntsman
09:35 01 June 2012
Mirror, mirror on the wall, why on earth is there another Snow White film just two months after the last one? Maybe because this one thinks it has an original take on the fairytale.
You see, this is Snow White for boys, a Grimm action fantasy for those who found the Narnia films a bit weedy.
It is, of course, a ludicrous creation, a white elephant that thinks it’s a unicorn. Everything is done with a berserk fervour. I’d describe it as dark and gothic but that would summon up images of some chintzy little Tim Burton frippery.
This lays on the (12A) gruesomeness like someone had slighted its masculinity. The Evil Queen (Charlize Theron) comes from an Anne Rice novel and is assisted by a brother who looks like an albino Chris Morris in a Jimmy Saville wig and is way too creepy even for a 12A Snow White.
The bleak first hour is a preposterous miscalculation and the audience (of real people) at my screening seemed to turn on it very quickly. The second hour is lightened by the appearance of the dwarves (Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, Toby Jones, Eddie Marsan and Nick Frost, midgitised) Even then it is not exactly a barrel of laughs but their arrival does leaven the ferocity of the gloom a little.
This is a Snow White that nobody wants or needs, but it is well executed pointlessness. In the week of Prometheus’s release (mirror, mirror why is the evil tyrant Rupert Murdoch’s Fox restricting press screenings of this until two days before it comes out?) the influence of Ridley Scott is all over this. The battle scenes seem inspired by Gladiator and Robin Hood while the enchanted forest resembles Legend.
The film has lots of visually striking scenes but these do not build into a coherent vision. You never really believe that the castle is in the vicinity of that bit of woodland.
Similarly, while taken in isolation, the acting is rather good, much of it doesn’t really fit the film. Theron is a tortured evil queen and emotes likes she thinks someone might chuck her an Oscar for it, which often leaves her looking a bit silly.
As Snow White, Stewart makes a tremendous Joan of Arc. It is a little ridiculous for the Mirror to declare her scrawny tomboyish features to be the fairest of them all, over Theron’s Aryan perfection (if only because enchanted mirrors would surely have rather traditional views of beauty; I just don’t see them embracing androgyny) but Stewart makes a strong case here for having real star quality.
Hemsworth has been invited to play the Huntsman in the style of Gerard Butler, which is quite a limitation but he copes well enough. He is even invited to voice over a few lines of introduction at the start which says a lot about the film’s vision – imagine a world so absurd and out of kilter that Gerard Butler is the narrator.
SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN (12A)
Director: Rupert Sanders
Starring: Kirsten Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone and Ian McShane
Length: 123 mins