Friday, June 1, 2012

Snow White & the Huntsman

 I do not own the above image.  For entertainment purposes only.  Copyright Universal Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

In today’s Hollywood environment, you need to be able to do two things: take an idea that has already been done before and put your own spin on it.  How much you change can make or break your project.  You can go the J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” path and change one detail that causes a ripple through the backstory but is still effective & interesting.  Or you can rewrite anything that you hate about a few mythical creatures’ identity into your liking and throw a boring love story inside.  That’s right, “Twilight”.

The story of Snow White, for the second time in 2 months, is twisted for our palates.  This time, director Rupert Sanders (first motion picture, per IMDb) and a trio of solo writers ending with Evan Daugherty (first full-length motion picture) take the fairy tale in a darker direction.  Snow White (Stewart) is held prisoner for about a decade by Ravenna, the Evil Queen (Theron).  Before she is to be raped by the queen’s brother Finn, she escapes and runs off to the Dark Forest.  The Evil Queen sends a small army led by the hired Huntsman (Hemsworth) to go retrieve her.

I want to preface this by saying I have never liked Charlize Theron in anything, even Arrested Development.  So to watch her try to impersonate Al Pacino in “The Devil’s Advocate”, which she saw firsthand 15 years ago, was infuriating.  She either enunciated every syllable or screamed at the top of her lungs.  Theron makes the opening 20 minutes nearly impossible to watch.  Kristen Stewart, to her credit, isn’t as terrible as she usually is.  She isn’t helped by the fact that the screenplay has her Snow White play hopscotch with the fine line between heroine & damsel in distress.

There are two fantastic elements to the movie that make it worth attending a matinee.  First, there is a 75 minute sequence after Snow White escapes the castle.  There are sequences involving a troll, a village of intentionally battered women and, best of all, the dwarves.  A special treat awaits for true movie fans with the dwarves.  Second, and best of all, Chris Hemsworth can act.  His character is the most amusing & enjoyable to watch, even if he is only called The Huntsman.  Even with all the visual effects & action sequences in the movie, Hemsworth’s monologue towards the end of the second act gave me the biggest smile.

“SWATH” is better than it has any right to be.  With an Oscar winner & a MTV Movie Award winner who aren’t very effective at all at the center of this movie, this could have been a complete disaster.  But with a fascinating middle, an adequate third act and an actor-making turn by Hemsworth, “SWATH” is a minor surprise.  Now, Hollywood, build a movie around Chris Hemsworth.  And I’m not talking about “Thor 2”.  Maybe something Ryan Gosling said no to?

***1/2 (out of five)

1 comment:

  1. It's a 4.5/5 movie.. not a 3.5/5 one.