Sunday, June 3, 2012
Snow White and the Huntsman *
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron
Sam Claflin, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones
Brian Gleeson, Sam Spruell, Ray Winstone, Noah Huntley
While fairy tales always ask us to suspend our disbelief, few have done so with the preposterous notion that there is a universe where Kristen Stewart is fairer than Charlize Theron. The South African beauty plays Evil Queen, to Stewart's title heroine in what, more often than not, results a tepid attempt to update the iconic German tale.
Set in a land designed by fans of Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings, the movie pretty much relies on pastiche to fool us into thinking it's doing something original and "adult". As if children's tales weren't already encoded lessons for us to carry well into adult life, this adaptation tries to squeeze every little grown up thing about Snow White and turn it into an "issue".
No longer do we have a heroine whose fate is sealed by the vanity of her stepmother; now we have a political refugee who escapes prison with the help of a brutish widower (Hemsworth) and turns into a combination of Joan of Arc and Jesus, as she communicates with the animals, is "chosen" by the spirits of nature and eventually comes back from the dead.
While there is nothing essentially wrong with how Kristen Stewart looks, her eternal funereal appearance makes it impossible for non-Twilight loving audience members to get why she's the heroine. Her skin is so pale that most of the time you can practically smell the embalming liquid oozing from her body. Then there's the whole problem about how much she seems to hate the cameras. She constantly tries to stay away from them and in a movie named after the character you play, this becomes quite the problem. Miss Stewart not only looks awkward during every scene, but she also invalidates the effort made by all other cast members.
You never believe that someone like Theron's evil Queen Ravenna would be intimidated in the slightest way by Stewart's Snow White. Much less would you believe that a studly man like Chris Hemsworth's nameless huntsman would fall for her.
It's as if the movie is playing a joke on us. Can it be that at some level it's trying to show us that you don't need to be a great beauty to land a blonde, Aussie stud? That might be interesting but then the movie would be going against what the screenplay makes us think about Ravenna.
Theron screams, moans and grunts her way out of one of the strangest characters she's ever played. She chews the scenery with extreme gusto but her performances comes off looking like Lena Heady's Cersei Lannister on acid. She just screams too much.
Even when the situation calls for it, Theron is always one step beyond, which could very well be more obvious because of the lack of effort put in by her antagonist.
While it's true that at all times the movie should contrast the evil and good characters, Snow White and the Huntsman suffers because it does this with no restraint and almost no control. Instead of creating the wicked rivalry suggested by Theron, the film delivers almost bipolar moments particularly in how it doesn't know where it stands on sex and if it does, it chooses an almost retrograde notion that chastity equals endless virtue.
Where Theron's Ravenna is in full control of her sexuality (so much that she murders her husband while riding him during a sexual act), Snow white is nothing if not asexual. Not since Anne Baxter's infamous heaving chest and cries of "Moah-sez", has someone looked more painfully horny than Kristen Stewart. The problem is that where Baxter was actually enjoying herself, Kristen's parted-lip shtick doesn't have a pinch of eroticism. When in the last scenes of the movie we see her turn from Jesus to Elizabeth I, the way she pants and opens her lip as they place the crown on her head, would have made a fascinating commentary on how power might just be the ultimate aphrodisiac. But then we see K. Stew is staring at Chris Hemsworth, and once again we're confused. It's like she's always reacting late. Will she ever wake up from that eternal zombie slumber she's in? Will she ever make up her mind between Jacob and Edward? Will we be able to justify to ourselves the fact that we were rooting for the evil woman who killed young girls to steal their beauty? And why the hell would anyone need a sequel of this film?