Posted September 17, 2012 by Chris Patmore in DVD/Blu-ray
 
 

Snow White And The Huntsman


Is it zeitgeist, collective consciousness or simply Hollywood’s

Is it zeitgeist, collective consciousness or simply Hollywood’s lack
of imagination that sees two, admittedly diverse, Snow White movies appear in
cinemas in as many months, over seven decades after Disney brought the story to
life in his first animated feature?
Snow is also a
major character in the TV series Once Upon a Time so she’s certainly putting
herself about at the moment.

For most people,
the enduring memory is of Disney’s Snow White, whistling happy tunes and
looking after the vertically-challenged miners with poor domestic habits. And
yet, amongst all the songs and happy forest creatures there are some truly dark
moments that have disturbed several generations of young viewers – except,
maybe, the modern ones brought up on EastEnders.

Where Tarsem’s Mirror, Mirror was much more family
focused, with post-modern, pop-culture humour, Snow White and the Huntsman goes
to the dark side, taking a gothic path for which Kristen Stewart is much better suited, even though she was a
contender for same role in Tarsem’s version. Lily Collins may not have been the greatest actress (something else
she has in common with Stewart), but at least she could manage an engaging
smile and a sense of fun.

Apart from
Twi-hards and fans of Chris Hemsworth
(who seems to be this year’s Jessica
Chastain
, in terms of cinema saturation, only bigger, buffer, butcher and
blonder), who is this movie aimed at? It is too scary for kids and probably too
childish for most fantasy fans; or if not childish, then at least too po-faced.
While its intention is to go back to the darker origins of the Brothers Grimm
story, it actually overlooks many of the elements and makes the queen more
conniving and her magic blacker as she tries to stop herself ageing.

There is no doubt
that as the Queen, Charlize Theron
is the most beautiful in the land, and as an actress she has the chops for big
dramatic roles, but the screenplay’s bad-Shakespeare dialogue and theatrics
make it hard to be taken as seriously as it should be, which goes for all the
characters. Julia Roberts’ bitchy
Queen was definitely more fun to watch, as her tongue was sharper than Theron’s
talons.

The only bit of
relief from all the doom and gloom comes when the dwarfs turn up, initially
from the surprise of seeing a coterie of well-known British actors that are
down-sized for the parts – although this soon becomes more disturbing than
amusing. One wonders if Tarsem had nabbed all the good dwarf actors first,
leaving this production to go down the CG route. The Miyazaki-esque fairy world
into which they retreat is certainly a welcome relief from the grim world they
have escaped from.

In fact, the
film’s saving grace is its special effects, which are spectacular at times, but
these are never a good reason alone to see a film. On other occasions there is
an air of familiarity about the effects-driven characters. The mirror seems to
be Terminator 2’s T-1000 attending a
Star Wars cosplay as the Emperor,
and the mystical forest creature was straight out Princess Mononoke, as played by Aslan disguised as Harry Potter’s patronus. There’s even a
troll that will make you want to shout out TROLL!!

While this movie
tries to bring something new to the story, which it does, do we really want to
see such a dark version of a classic fairytale? At no point do we believe that
Kristen Stewart is more beautiful than Charlize Theron (except when the Queen
loses all her magic), the Huntsman is heroic but a bit thick (Hemsworth is the
only redeeming factor, in spite of his wavering, generic celtic accent), and
the love-interest prince is too wishy-washy (not the Aladdin pantomime
character) to care about.

Tarsem’s almost
pantomime take on the story is supremely more entertaining and family oriented
and for those of us who want dark adult-oriented fantasy there is Game of Thrones, which has everything
you could possibly want from the genre, including superb acting.


Chris Patmore