Snow White and The Huntsman is a visually stunning film – from Theron’s wicked queen eating the hearts of crows to swooping panoramas of some beautiful country and the obligatory epic battle scenes, it has a very striking and beautiful aesthetic.
But, as beautiful as it is, it still sucks. (There are a couple of minor spoilers ahead, so those who wish to avoid them should stop reading right now; you have all you need to know.)
The script is stilted and clunky, and that’s not just the bits of it falling, half-chewed, like the innards of a cheap 3am kebab, from Kirsten Stewart’s lips. Charlize Theron’s wicked witch is two-dimensional and almost a parody of herself, gnawing on the scenery throughout and flapping around on the floor on no less than three occasions, with oddly-timed chunks of back-story thrown in occasionally to almost – almost – betray a touch of humanity.
There’s no one thing I can say is the worst – the wonky pacing and the lame jokes mean any comic relief tends to fall flat and there’s no real sense of a believable world: in two hours, nothing really hangs together coherently enough to draw the viewer in.
The characters seem to lack any real motivation or justification for their deeds – Ravenna is a wicked queen because she has some magical powers and once, a long time ago, some unnamed man screwed her over. That’s it. Snow White stumbles from her cell (pretty much unchallenged, I might add – some very bad guarding going on there) and promptly decides to take back her kingdom because, well, the story demands it. She doesn’t seem to care at all and when all is said and done, she claims her rightful throne and instead of looking triumphant or in any way pleased at her achievement, she looks worried, as if unsure as to what happens next.
Even the dwarfs we meet aren’t really believable: We know Bob Hoskins, Nick Frost and Ian McShane (yes, Lovejoy) aren’t really dwarfs, so why have them play dwarfs? It’s obvious at points that real dwarfs were used for filming body shots and large, sweeping panoramic scenes, so why not for the actual acting? It’s not as if they could be worse than Stewart, Theron and co.
To a degree, Stewarts’ wooden acting is almost helpful – we’re supposed to believe that she’s been locked away in a turret, all alone, for the best part of 20 years: it’s no wonder she’s a bit stiff and emotionless most of the time.
Even ignoring glaring plot holes, threadbare storylines, some jarring deus ex machinae (Oh look! A horse! Just as I was trying to escape!) and at least one extremely silly haircut, there’s little to recommend this film beyond the stylised visuals and swoopy panoramic shots. After a while even these last started to make me feel a bit sick.