Snow White and the Huntsman
Opens Friday at Scotiabank
An open letter to the man who ruined Snow White and the Huntsman for me:
You were seated beside me at the promotional screening for Snow White and the Huntsman the other night. I recognized you as a fellow movie critic, since you were seated in one of those coveted aisle seats with the professional-looking “Press” 8x11 taped to the back. You had a pen, but no notepad.
Perhaps you read the Brothers Grimm version as a child, and had nightmares about poisonous combs or about having to wear red-hot iron shoes and dance until you died (details that were left out of the Disney version). Or maybe you had just eaten a bad apple.
Either way, there was no need to be so angry at director Rupert Sanders, making his feature debut. Or so annoyed with Chris Hemsworth (Thor in The Avengers), playing the hunky huntsman, tasked with finding Snow White and bringing her heart back to the evil Queen (Charize Theron). And it’s a good thing you didn’t have any writing material at hand: judging by your reaction to Kristen Stewart, I think you might have thrown it at the screen as soon as she appeared.
With apologies to Twi-hards, Stewart is no one’s favourite actress, to be sure. But she does a capable job here, jumping into fight and battle scenes with gusto and losing some of that trademark poutiness. The actor doesn’t quite deserve your comment “Fairest of them all, my ass: she isn’t even hot.” First of all, your bony bottom and “fairest” should not be in the same sentence, believe me. Secondly, Stewart was never called on to be hot. Just to have “skin white as snow” (check), and “hair black as night” (check again). Perhaps you’re thinking of bonafide X-rated title Snow Black and the Seven Weenies?
Theron as the Queen has the juiciest role, being the symbol of our culture’s obsession with youth and beauty, and all. She gets to rip the hearts out of virile young men (watch out, angry seatmate), and suck the youth straight from the lips of young maidens. Plus her costumes—courtesy of Academy Award winner Colleen Atwood—are phenomenal.
Snow White and the Huntsman is a fairy tale for grownups, so there is plenty of violence, mud and gritty fingernails. But it is ultimately a fairy tale. There are mysterious dark armies that shatter like onyx, and a troll, a classic fairy-tale device. There’s a spectacularly spooky wood, with several slithery things you might see in a re-run of Fear Factor, plus an equally enchanted forest, populated by fairies. So if you’re snorting and guffawing during a dwarf funeral dirge, you’re probably in the wrong theatre.
The film gives us a few fresh perspectives, including that of the Queen’s creepy brother (Sam Spruell). We get to see something of the Queen’s mental torment. There’s a nice little prince/huntsman love triangle going on. Plus Snow White doesn’t waste her time wishing: she leads an army to the castle gates.
For good measure, we get to see the Evil Queen’s wedding (and who doesn’t love a royal wedding?) after which “Nature turned on itself. The land died, and with it, hope.”
There are too many visual tricks to mention, from the Queen’s milk bath to the dwarfs (Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone among them). Story could definitely have been beefed up and a visual effect trimmed, but there’s no denying the spectacle.
Now, we critics tend to be guarded in our opinion of a movie before our review runs, in part because we want people to actually read them, and because sometimes we just haven’t figured it out until we get to our cars. Not you, fellow wordsmith: “Worst. #@*ing. Movie. Ever” was only one of the expletive-laden reviews you loudly imparted to patrons as the credits started to roll. Ever? You must be very new to the film-criticism game. Or was that all that you could write on your hand?
The elderly ladies trying to pass you in the aisle didn’t appreciate the language nor, frankly, did I. Save it for the boys’ locker room, or for the guy who stole your notebook.