'Snow White': no fairy tale for actors, audience
By Kwaak Je-yup
Building an action fantasy around a fairy tale is no easy task. And the creative team behind the overhyped “Snow White and the Huntsman” tried to do it with a lot of fantasy but little action.
It may be an art team’s dream; tour-de-force special effects make the film a visual marvel. But just about everything else falls flat.
Take the story, loosely based on the Brothers Grimm’s fiction, which starts with a nearly-illogical introduction. In a nameless kingdom, people with forced English accents (and a narrator speaking bastardized Scottish) live happily under a great monarch. One day his wife’s hand is pierced by a rosebush’s thorn, and while bleeding, she has a revelation she wants to give birth to a princess with lips as red as her blood.
She soon does, and names the daughter Snow White (Kristen Stewart) and then inexplicably dies. Now single, the king must defend his state against a mysterious army. When he succeeds in battle, he finds his prize Ravenna (Charlize Theron) in a carriage, a beautiful evil queen posing as a prisoner. She seduces the king, and they wed, after which she kills him during their first night together and puts the world under her dark powers.
Through magic, Ravenna extracts beautiful girls’ youth to maintain her appearance, but her clairvoyant mirror says that she ultimately needs her stepdaughter, who is fairer than she, to become invincible.
The quest’s frivolity aside, first and foremost, parents worldwide should ask what kind of a message this film sends to young girls. Are women only worth their beauty?
Apparently yes, watching Theron’s cringe-worthy performance. It is hard to be unaffected by the South African actress’s beauty from her first appearance; more often than not, the actress seems like the lead. Her outbursts of fury, however, become repetitive, especially when delivered in such a cluttered format.
Stewart, who has the teenager-oriented “Twilight” series as her main acting credit, offers even less. She barely fights anyone. She is an awkward mix of Joan of Arc and angel, producing miracles but unable to defend herself most of the time. Her only lengthy speech, inspiring men to war, is insufferable. It is unclear how she becomes a mighty warrior so suddenly after that. Only the editors know.
The huntsman (Chris Hemsworth, star of “Thor”) is hired by the queen to search for Snow White, when she escapes through the sewer. He is arguably the most adequate of the lead actors ― certainly the most likable ― with wholesome fight scenes and brooding demeanor. But he also lacks a logical story, especially his supposed love arc with the princess ending nowhere. If he is her true love (which also goes unexplained), does he become prince? No idea.
The biggest waste of talent is with the dwarves. Reminiscent of their brethren in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy but considerably weaker, they provide wisdom, some poorly-rhymed songs and a few tricks in combat. Their names may be changed to the likes of Muir, Coll and Gort, probably to reflect the seriousness of this film, but actors Bob Hoskins, Toby Jones and Ray Winstone, respectively, are sorely underused.
The people behind this catastrophe should be praying for a fairy godmother to re-edit this film before release next week because in the form screened to critics Wednesday, the 127 minutes were pure torture.
“Snow White and the Huntsman” opens Thursday in theaters nationwide. Runs 127 minutes. Rated 12 and over. Distributed by UPI Korea.