Snow White and the Huntsman is the second reimagining of canonical fairytale this year (the other being the god awful Mirror Mirror). Debut director Rupert Sanders, using the stylistic tropes of a swathe of directorial influences, brings grand, magical enchantment and visceral fantastical action scenes to this seminal tale. However this fairy-tale, told through the prism of fantasy, is burdened with scripting, pacing and acting issues that distract and hurt the overall product.
The writers Daugherty, Amini and Hancock are required to fundamentally go against instinctive scripting economy to re-imagine the canonical fairy-tale text. Unpacking the story for the film causes a stuttering pace. In one scene it's at breakneck speed and you're willing it to slow down, and in the next it crawls and you're checking your watch. And unfortunately because you're so familiar with the original text the scripting feels anticipation fatigue at every turn.
These inconsistencies ultimately permeate through to the performances. Chris Hemsworth's Huntsman is a charming and beautiful rogue (despite some deficiencies in the Scottish brogue) but his characterisation is too economical. I'm not a Kristen Stewart hater and I think that she delivers a solid leading performance in another franchise assisting her to break the shackles of her Twilight typecasting. Unfortunately she has to suffer delivering some of the clumsiest dialogue in the film. Charlize Theron's performance is forced to languish in the intentional expansion of the queen character. To give you some Wicked-esque sympathy for her plight you have to see her as a vulnerable, shrieking mess before she's galvanised into the steely bad ass in the latter stages of the flick.
The technology pioneered in Lord of the Rings is used to dwarf-ize (I know it's made up) a band of bulldog Brits (including Ian McShane, Bob Hiskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones) into the new versions of our tiny miners. I found the all-star actors actually distractingly familiar - I kept saying "look it's tiny Al Swearengen, tiny Capote" etc.
Director Rupert Saunders directorial voice isn't fully present. Sanders uses a patchwork of shooting and aesthetic techniques inspired by Ridley Scott, Terrence Malick, Peter Jackson, Christopher Nolan, George Lucas, David Lean and even a musical queue that reminded me of John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China - and for a cinefile it became a 'spot' the homage.
Snow White and the Huntsman has real glimpses of beguiling beauty, and accomplished fantasy action but repeatedly doses itself with the poison apple and diminishes the impact.
[rating=2] and a half
Directed: Rupert Sanders
Written by: Evan Daugherty (screenplay/screen story), John Lee Hancock (screenplay), Hossein Amini (screenplay)
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Clafin, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones and Charlize Theron
Snow White and The Huntsman is released in Australia on the 21st of June 2012, and in the U.S.A on the 1st of June 2012 .