The major accomplishment of Kristen Stewart’s latest cinematic offering is how Chris Hemsworth manages to come across as a believable romantic lead despite playing a drunkard who sports a thick layer of medieval grime for nearly the entire duration of the film, and has only the scantest provision of lines to work with.
One has to assume that the wish to make full use of the Thor actor’s looks and strength was the screenwriters’ primary motivation for replacing the svelte Prince of the original story with the brawny huntsman who takes the lead in this film.
In addition to the extra dose of testosterone, this is also a modern update on the simple good and evil of the classic fairy tale. Now the characters’ nasty traits are revealed to be products of traumatic experiences: the perpetually sloshed Huntsman is actually just grieving his dead wife, and the vain and cruel Queen’s manipulative tendencies stem from her victimization as a child.
All in all, an interesting take.
However, in the excitement of adapting this tale to the screen, I think the writers might have forgotten which story they were actually telling.
At least one scene seems to have been lifted directly from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe film. After sleeping overnight in the forest, the innocent and fair Snow White (aka Lucy) is awakened early one morning by some flower-pixies, only to be led to a grassy and sunlit enclosure where a noble creature of the forest (aka Aslan) is awaiting her. Unfortunately, the screenwriters chose for some inexplicable reason to replace the majestic golden lion with a grey and almost sickly-looking hart. For those of you who, like me, didn’t know, a hart is a really big male deer.
And while this hart has a massive rack of antlers that surely any hunter would be proud to display on his wall, it hardly inspires the trust and respect that is inspired by the kingly image of a lion.
Kristin Stewart gives a respectable, if one-dimensional, performance, and Charlize Theron is convincing as an aging woman fighting hard to hold onto her fleeting beauty. There are a few striking scenes that make the movie seem like an allegory of the current beauty industry, alluding as they do to common beauty treatments and visually similar to commercials for beauty products.
In one scene, Theron emerges from a vat of what looks like a very rich milk bath, the gluey white substance covering her like a shell of armor to protect and perfect her for her next vengeful attack.
In another, she has been disintegrated in battle (yes, she is magical), but re-emerges from a tarry primeval sludge to take on her original form again. Who knew a mud bath could do you so much good.
Since this is a movie review and the point is to let people know whether to see the film or not, I’d say go for it, but only if your first and second choices aren’t available.
Speaking of which, I suggest that we introduce a grading system for our reviews, film or otherwise. But enough of the tired old stars and clichéd thumbs-up: how about some checkers?