Instead of beating around the bush, I’ll go ahead and throw this out there, since we’ve all known it from the very beginning: Kristin Stewart is an awful actress. It might as well be mentioned, since it’s also a good springboard into the justified criticism that her performance has received. From the Twilight movies up until now, she’s somehow managed to capture the hearts and minds of tweens all across the world. Perhaps its her wooden, unresponsive glazed-over look of someone who either doesn’t care, or has no clue as to what’s going on; or more likely than not it’s that she’s just in the right series. I gave her more than adequate praise for her work in Adventureland and surprisingly enough, she did more than just stand there and nod. But Snow White and the Huntsman is a return to form for her. In the worst way possible.
Set in the fairytale world of Snow White, director Rupert Sanders has taken a different approach to the frequently told and retold story. This has a much darker sensibility than what we’v seen before, yet it carries a sense of familiarity. I’m speaking of the amount of “dark” fairytales that have been in production, on TV and in the theaters over the course of this year. We’ve seen it before, it’s nothing new. But in Snow White, Sanders has his hands full trying to surpass the other recreations–and unfortunately, he does not succeed. In casting Stewart as Snow White and Theron as Ravenna, he was taking a big risk in Theron completely overshadowing Stewart. This, however, doesn’t happen. Neither actress does much–one overacts (Theron), while the other is wooden. In spite of Stewart and Theron’s performances, the film faults on a basic storytelling level more than anything, though they can hardly be ignored. They are the central pieces, after all. Sanders has added in some new material to the story, but nothing that really makes it stand out.
One of the biggest surprises is how Theron’s performance is so over-the-top. She’s never been one to overact in the past, but for some strange reason–possibly Sanders’ direction?–she does a great deal of it here. To his credit, she is given more backstory than Stewart is, surprisingly enough. In a weird way, it is actually more of Ravenna’s story than it is Snow White’s. In the end, I felt more empathy towards the cruel Ravenna than I did towards the lily-white image of Snow White, whose personality seems utterly flat in comparison to the villain, Ravenna. As I learned more about Ravenna, the more I felt for her plight. Her brother, Finn (Sam Spruell) whose weird haircut can’t be ignored, is downright evil. Spruell, mostly an unknown, plays him to a ‘T’. Chris Hemsworth, the Huntsman, plays his role charmingly, while director Sanders’ visual flair attempts to escalate it from mediocrity.
Snow White and the Huntsman is an altogether unsuccessful film. Despite the strong sense of theme, as well as a striking ending shot, the film flounders around due to a weird sense of pacing and lackluster performances. But while the film doesn’t work, it certainly has its fair share of shining moments–the ending, some of the action sequences were choreographed well and the score, as well as an additional song by the band Florence + The Machine played during the credits. That may seem like very little to see a film for, which is why I’d say it’s a definite must miss. Nevertheless, Rupert Sanders will hopefully bounce back from this with a stronger cast and a tighter script.