PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

June 6, 2012

Beautiful but mediocre portrayal of a classic fairytale

Sean McBride
The Port Arthur News

— The new movie, “Snow White and the Huntsman” might have been more aptly titled, “Snow White: Warrior Princess.” That’s because the movie creates a world where the famous fairytale heroine doesn’t need rescuing by some Prince Charming because she’s actually the leader of a band of rebels fighting to take down the evil queen who killed her father. Apologies to all the little girls hoping for a princess fairytale, but this movie is more “Lord of the Rings” than anything that Walk Disney ever dreamed up.

The story does follow the classic fairytale, at least at first. Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) marries and then murders Snow White’s father on their wedding night. Snow White (Kristen Stewart) is locked up in a tower, but eventually escapes to the Dark Forrest where the Queen’s magic is impotent. The Queen wants to eat Snow White’s heart in order to magically prolong her title of “fairest of them all,” so she sends a huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to bring the girl back to the castle. You can guess the rest. The two join together to fight against the queen, aided by an odd band of dwarves and mysterious bowman.

It’s an interesting, girl-power departure from the Disney version of the fairytale. Indeed, it’s also a decidedly adult story as all three of the main characters are dealing with horrific traumas in their pasts. Even the eight dwarves can’t lighten the mood. This is serious stuff rather than just an escapist fantasy.

Unfortunately, the actors don’t deliver the drama needed to make “Snow White and the Huntsman” into a truly moving experience. Kristen Stewart is once again a flat cipher, while Charlize Theron opts for melodrama at every turn. Even Chris Hemsworth and the dwarves feel wasted, despite the fact that the dwarves are played my miniaturized versions of some of the most-respected British actors working today (Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, etc.).

The acting may be a let down, but visually, the film is a real treat. This is Rupert Sanders directorial debut and he’s imagined a stunning film. There were times when I stopped following the story because I was so swept up by the magical images up on the screen. One fairyland sequence in particular is so beautiful that it’s almost worth the price of admission by itself.

Ultimately, you’ll need to decide if those images are enough to salvage “Snow White and the Huntsman” from its flat story and inconsistent acting. You shouldn’t just say that you’ll wait until the film comes out on DVD. If you like gorgeous fantasy images then you should pay to see this film up on a big screen. You’ll have a harder decision to make if you’re more concerned about acting and story.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM-TV and KBOI 2-TV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@kboi2.com.