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AT THE MOVIES: SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN

Directed by: Rupert Sanders

Starring Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Kirsten Stewart, Ian McShane, Nick Frost, Ray Winstone, Bob Hoskins

It appears that movies based on the Snow White fairytale are like buses. You wait for ages and then two come along at once. Almost hot on the heels of Mirror Mirror, which starred Lily Collins and Julia Roberts as the eponymous princess and wicked queen respectively, comes this offering featuring Kirsten Stewart and Charlize Theron as the feuding females.

Everyone is familiar with the tale of the jealous evil queen who is stepmother to Snow White and plots to have her killed when she comes of age after her magical mirror decrees that her stepdaughter is now indeed fairer than she. Where Mirror Mirror took the light-hearted approach to the tale, even playing the darker scenes slightly tongue in cheek to wonderful effect, this goes for a much darker take on the story. Theron is fabulous as the evil Ravena, who kills Snow’s father on their wedding night and imprisons her in the castle tower until she reaches adulthood when she plans to kill her and cut out her heart.

However, Snow manages to escape to the dark forest and Ravena enlists the help of a local huntsman, Eric (Hemsworth) to retrieve her since her magic won’t work there. When he eventually catches up with her, after a series of misunderstandings and close calls, he eventually ends up becoming her ally. When they are captured by a group of dwarves who realise that Snow is the princess they believed dead they find themselves with even more people on their side and are eventually in a position to storm the castle and attempt to overthrow Ravenna and restore Snow to her rightful place as ruler – not before she eats a poisoned apple and is restored to life by a kiss though (and not from whom you’d think).

Many things work here. The effects are fantastic and the film is visually stunning. As I previously mentioned Theron is fabulous as Ravena with a steely iciness penetrating through her spectacular beauty. Hemsworth does a more than decent job as Eric – although at times you get the feeling that he is desperately trying not to draw comparisons to his portrayal of that other muscle bound leading man, Thor. He even uses a Scottish accent (which sometimes slips in to his native Australian) lest we should get confused.

The story is paced well and although cheesy in parts the script is pretty decent. However I have two main problems with this film. The first is the casting of Kirsten Stewart as Snow. While she is undoubtedly a beautiful woman the idea that she is “fairer” than former model Charlize Theron is pretty laughable. It is almost impossible to look at her as other characters discuss her extraordinary beauty and not wonder what they are talking about. Also, she has no range at all throughout and seems to almost dial in the role. While her presence may draw in the Twihards, her casting will leave many scratching their head after they’ve seen this.

My second problem is with the casting of the dwarves. Many of the UK’s best known actors play the universally famous little people, including Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins and Ray Winstone. While each of these is a fine performer in his own right, not one of them could remotely be described as a dwarf so instead they have been digitally altered to – quite literally – fit the role. Since there are an abundance of actors out there who fit the bill for this role it seems somewhat unnecessary to have cast regular sized people. I couldn’t help thinking as I watched it that if they had “blacked up” a white actor for a part there would be uproar but yet they thought it was OK to do this.

Political correctness aside, most of these actors are famed for playing hard men roles and to say it is discombobulating for an audience to see them miniaturised is an understatement.

One of the first things I usually judge a movie on when I attend the screening is whether or not I’d be disappointed if I’d parted with my hard earned cash to view it. So am I disappointed? To be honest I’m a bit meh about it. After all the hype, I expected more and while at times it was truly thrilling I just couldn’t get over the constant references about Stewart’s beauty surpassing Charlize’s (who still looks stunning even as she ages in to a crone in the film). I wouldn’t say it was a waste of money and it is the kind of movie that deserves to be seen on the big screen to do the effects justice, however I was left slightly dissatisfied by it overall. Worth a look but not the mind boggling blockbuster it should have been.

 

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