Snow White and the Huntsman

We saw Snow White and the Huntsman at the Landmark Harbor East Theater here in Baltimore on Tuesday night. Given the reviews my low expectations had swelled quite a bit, and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s refreshing to see a Hollywood fairy tale wrought with truly grim imagery. The CGI settings are all lovely, even the scary ones like the Dark Forest. And the performances are pretty good.

Cherlize Theron occasionally gets a bit over-the-top, at one point acting a bit too much like the character in her recurring role on Arrested Development. But she’s satisfyingly wicked, a vampiric soul-sucking sexless deathcicle. Kristen Stewart–this is the first time I’ve seen her or anything with her in it, excepting for a topless clip from some forthcoming On the Road flick. Cha and I discussed her performance after the movie: “She’s not a very good actress,” Cha said. “She reaches the depths of Zoey Deschanel,” I replied. “She’s better than Zoey,” Cha insisted. “Not by much. But she is hotter in a weird rabbit-toothed way.” It’s all about lips and mouth and wet eyes for her, which works when your character is symbolic of love and lust and passion, which have been drained in your realm. She does a lot of Jean d’Arc mimicry pretty well.

And that Thor guy who’s also the Huntsman? He’s Brad Pitt ten years ago, but more rugged–a bit of Russell Crowe mixed in. Brooding, pacing, grimacing are not acting, but he gets the job done.

And Al Swearingen makes a quality dwarf!

So you know the story, even if you’ve only seen the Disney film (to which there are a couple visual references). The Queen kills Snow White’s widowed father on their marriage bed. She sucks life and love out of the realm to perpetuate her own youth. There’s no joy. Sex is not simply repressed, it’s dead. Snow White is imprisoned in the tower, but when the queen is about to suck her soul she escapes and runs into the forest, where plants and animals are fecund and moist. The Huntsman pursues her there, yadda-yadda.

I liked the film, but wonder: will every archer in every film henceforth be a Legolas imitation? Will every sword-wielding hero be Aragorn? Will every scene with a heroine on a white horse being chased by several villains on black horses have to mimic the Nazgul chase scene from LOTR? There are lots of ripped off images and effects in Snow White. The magic mirror, for example, was a bit too T2. But that’s OK. It’s all in a good cause.

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