Latest Snow White Film Places 2 Good Actresses in Unfitting Roles

By Maggie Scott

Charlize Theron in Snow White

The endearing and enduring tale of Snow White has had many incarnations since the Brothers Grimm introduced it to the world in 1812.  The most famous and family-friendly version, of course, is the 1937 animated classic by Disney.

But, less-well-known, and some distinctly not for children versions include a 1933 Betty Boop cartoon; a version featuring the 3 Stooges; a 1976 X-rated version; a thriller version with Sigourney Weaver from 1997; and Shelley Duvall’s 1984 Faerie Tale Theatre live-action adaptation with Vincent Price as the “fairest-one-of-all” mirror.

The Japanese have animated her; the current TV series, “Once Upon a Time” has had a go at her; and Julia Roberts camped her up as the wicked stepmother in the recently released full-length, Mirror, Mirror.

Joining this variably illustrious list now is yet another version from the minds of writers Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini and that of director Rupert Sanders.  Snow White and the Huntsman is not having any of that whistle-while-you-work sweetness or poisoned apple victimization cured by love’s kiss for a happily-ever-after rescue carried off on the handsome prince’s horse.

This time, after about ten years in a tower, Snow White (Kristen Stewart) is coming out swinging.  Amazingly she still in possession of all her mental and physical faculties after what appears to have been some pretty dire deprivations and isolation in her murdered father’s castle.  Snow White “comes of age” and becomes not just a threat to her stepmother Ravenna’s control of the stolen kingdom, but apparently also has the power to drain all the outer beauty from a woman whose inner heart and soul are consumed by evil.

Like a vampire, Ravenna (Charlize Theron) must renew herself sucking all the youthful loveliness out of the kingdom’s maidens.  But, with the news of Snow White’s designation as fairest in the land, the Queen needs not just Snow White’s beauty but her heart as well; because, besides craving eternal beauty, Ravenna seeks immortality.

Enter the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth)—a man who has loved and lost a wife of beauty and pure and loving heart like Snow White.  He is unable to obey the killing orders of the Queen and her vicious brother (Sam Spruell), who takes the Huntsman along on his pursuit of the escaped Snow White.  Together the Huntsman and Snow White seek the castle of the Duke whose son William (Sam Claflin) was Snow White’s beloved childhood playmate.

Through the Dark Forest, Snow White and the Huntsman make their bickering way; dodging and fighting off the violent attacks of Ravenna’s henchmen, until they are joined by eight dwarves from the fairy land of Sanctuary.  They recognize Snow White as “of the blood…who will heal the land.”  Now, far off the fairy tale mark, the movie lurches under the additional burden of Snow White-turned-Braveheart: rallying the kingdom’s disenfranchised to take back their land and Snow White’s rightful throne.

Hoping to capitalize on their leading lady’s considerable popularity after her Twilight films’ mega-success, the filmmakers’ work offers Stewart little opportunity to flex her acting muscles.  As Snow White, she offers not much more than that arresting open-mouthed, piercing eyed face, which changes little, whether facing a monstrous troll, an enchanted stag or a sword-wielding army (and, is surprisingly awkward in a smiling, tender moment dancing with one of the dwarves).

Theron, meanwhile, clad in outrageously gaudy costumes, stalking a blighted castle (why would Ravenna want to rule such a dismal, cheerless realm?) is a repulsive harpy whose screeching gets laughably old long before her face is consumed by America’s biggest fear: wrinkled old age.  A Universal Pictures release, rated PG-13 for violence

 



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