Friday, June 1, 2012

Movie Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

There are two reasons to watch Snow White and the Huntsman – if you are a fan of mediocrity, or a fan of Kristen Stewart. The film is a lumbering, occasionally good looking pseudo epic that walks a bizarre line between teen-centric tripe and wannabe dark war drama. 

Based on the famous Brothers Grimm fairy tale and starring Twilight star Kristen Stewart, Snow White and the Huntsman is a cheesy and hammy cocktail, and seemingly proud of it. First time director Rupert Sanders has little in command outside of the lavishly detailed CGI and the intricate text of the end credits. The special effects are admittedly great, but the story of a kingdom’s rightful heir (Stewart) who overthrows an evil queen (Charlize Theron) feels quite outdated. Sanders attempts to darken the story with moody lighting and epic landscapes but despite the spectacle the film never really differentiates itself from other cheesy ancient-history fairytale failures like last year’s Red Riding Hood. 

The film doesn’t completely dip to Twilight levels of dreadfulness but it does seem like a big budget product catering exclusively to Twi-hards. Perhaps the Snow White story has simply run its course – we’ve already seen countless adaptations, including Tarsem’s Mirror Mirror. And perhaps we've all seen too many gloomy sweeping panoramas , or perhaps cinematographer Greig Fraser’s camerawork is pale by comparison to the skill found in Peter Jackson’s movies where the camera’s floating artistry achieves a kind of poetry. Perhaps Stewart lacks the modicum of skill and shred of likability that a lead actress is supposed to bring.  Whatever the case, Snow White and the Huntsman remains uninvolving. 

It doesn’t help that Stewart as usual looks constipated and bored and bestows that expression upon the audience as well. Chris Hemsworth, who plays the cover model for Medieval England’s Sassiest Bounty Hunter mag, is wasted in a dull thankless role. Charlize Theron, in her career worst as the evil queen Ravenna is hammy enough to fill large sized pepperoni sandwiches. She is as evil as the villains from Kanti Shah’s films and her shape-shifting is as threatening as the monsters from Gyanendra Chowdhary’s horror movies. It’s only a matter of time until clips of her performance arrive on YouTube and become Chris Klein-like viral sensations.

Some of the scenery involving trickling sunrays is truly beautiful; there's one particularly gorgeous enchanted forest scene with an antler and a couple of fairies. Another sequence where Snow White hallucinates the trees and brambles coming to life is haunting.  Sadly Snow White and the Huntsman rambles along from one overproduced scene to another and at the end we're told that the brave will be rewarded handsomely, a message that works as a lie for those who plan to see this film. 

(First published in MiD Day)

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