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|Film review: Snow White and the Hunstman|
|Written by Ivan Radford and Jo Bromilow|
|Tuesday, 29 May 2012 14:47|
Director: Rupert Sanders
Once there was a woman who pricked her finger on a rose in winter and thought: "I wish I had a child as white as this snow with lips as red as blood." Five seconds later, a baby was born - because that's how motherhood works, according to Snow White and the Huntsman, which begins with a prologue as baffling as the rest of its 126 mind-boggling minutes.
Based on the original Brothers Grimm story, Rupert Sander’s twisted tale isn’t afraid of a little blood or carnage. In fact, it likes it so much that it hacks the story to bits, chopping and changing its plot every few minutes.
We don't even meet our heroine until 15 minutes in - we're too busy being told about Ravenna (Theron), the evil witch who sluts her way into the king's bed then kills him and seizes the throne. She and her snivelling brother lock Snow White (Stewart) in a tower, then proceed to suck the life out of the kingdom's young girls to keep Ravenna looking soft-skinned and sexy. Occasionally they dunk her in milk like a novelty-shaped Kinder Bueno (Oil of Ulay was expensive back in medieval times).
"Mirror, mirror, on the wall... Who is the fairest of them all?" croons Theron, making eyes at herself. "You are, my queen," says the mirror, melting onto the floor and turning into the shape of a man. Melty Man continues: "But today, one has come of age who will surpass you."
"Snow White?" screams the queen. She screams a lot. "I should have killed her when she was a child!" Why she didn't is never explained.
Snow escapes from her prison (via a magical, fairy-summoned white steed, of course) and leads an army to rise up against the queen. Along the way, we meet The Huntsman (Hemsworth), a Scotsman in mourning for his dead wife who shoulders a big axe and an even bigger drinking problem. He helps Snow to survive in the Deep Dark Woods, the trippy place where creepy monsters go to die (and dissolve and do other weird things). Inevitably, the couple fall in love, because of reasons.
Then we stumble across the dwarves, a CGI-stunted troupe of bawdy actors, who introduce a sequence straight out of Princess Mononoke. “Can’t you see? She’s the one!” gasps a dwarf, as Snow White walks and talks with the forest spirits by the magic tree. The fact that it’s said by a blind, miniature Bob Hoskins only makes it more laughable.
Of course, Snow White and the Huntsman doesn’t have much time for laughter. Everyone is too busy being all moody and gothic like the poster. But there are a few welcome smirks – some of them come from Nick Frost’s diminutive dimwit (“You promised us gold and all we’ve got is poo!”) but most of them come from Charlize Theron. Not always in a good way.
Shouting, shrieking and yelling her way through the film’s never-ending runtime, she goes all out as the ageing witch. At times, her delightfully camp villain gives this dull adventure a much-needed threat. At other times, she resembles Albania’s entry from the Eurovision song contest.
Kristen Stewart fares much better, making her heroine as different to Bella Swan as possible despite the limited script. Hunky Hemsworth’s fleshed-out role, meanwhile, deserves to win awards: specifically, the Russell Crowe Award for Best Accent.
Fortunately, Sanders is at the helm to tie everything together. The first-time director tries to paper over the gaps by covering everything in CGI. It doesn’t quite work, but alongside Colleen Atwood’s costumes and Dominic Watkins’s production design it sure looks impressive. One stunning scene sees Ravenna explode into a cloud of crows, bursting through the window before collapsing back down on the floor in a lumpy, tar-like ooze. She gradually turns back into a human, spitting disjointed, undeveloped fragments everywhere. That’s probably what the script looked like during shooting.
More characters than Game of Thrones and no clear storyline? So Shite and the Huntsman, more like.
(Tip of the hat to @redheadfashion for that verdict line.)