Snow White and the Huntsman
Poor by design, Snow White and the Huntsman lives and dies by taking its utterly preposterous premise in earnest. If the idea of a gritty, edgy adult-oriented Snow White sounds like a good time at the movies, there was a delightfully stupid, trashy one made for television in the nineties called Snow White: A Tale of Terror that, while certainly awful, wasn’t an overlong generic high fantasy mess. The sight of the famous singing birds guiding Snow White through a dark, bloody keep would play best as a Saturday Night Live sketch. Instead, the film insists that you take this ridiculousness very seriously. Snow White: The Cynical Years? Is this what Hollywood has come to?
The story barely differentiates itself from the original Disney film that everyone is already so familiar with. The evil queen (Charlize Theron, performing like she really IS in an SNL skit) wants to be the fairest of them all but is challenged by the beauty of Snow White (played wonderfully as a child by Raffey Cassidy, and then later by Kristen Stewart). Snow White escapes the clutches of the queen’s stronghold and is hunted down by the titular Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), and just so all tension is eliminated, he immediately sides with Snow White about two minutes after being hired. And yes, there are dwarves, and yes, their size is the only thing in the film played for comedy, but wait there’s more, they’re played by the film’s most respectable actors receiving the most disrespectful paychecks of their careers – Toby Jones! Ian McShane! Eddie Marsan! Bob Hoskins! Ray Winstone! Has great talent ever been wasted on less?
Sure, the movie looks decent enough and the action is semi-comprehensible, but generically pretty can be found in a Lisa Frank calendar. At two hours that seem like more, Snow White and the Huntsman overstays its welcome and takes itself more seriously than it deserves to. Perhaps it could have acknowledged the latent absurdity of its concept were it headed by Tarsem Singh, inappropriately matched for this year’s other Snow White adaptation, Mirror Mirror. Not only would the film’s visuals have blossomed under his eye, but it may have embraced the nonsense. As it stands, it’s Hollywood scraping the bottom of the barrel.