I chose the image included here for a very specific reason so keep reading.
This past weekend I attended a viewing of Snow White and the Huntsman. It was an enjoyable, exquisitely visual – to a fault, film. Overall the story was fairly simple. I had expected some great re-imaginging because that seems to be the craze right now (don’t laugh, an ‘update’ of daVinci – not the Code – is in the works.) But this Snow White was actually quite straight-forward. Like many films made in this era there is often a need to give ‘evil’ some sort of backstory to empathize or explain the ‘evilness.’ I think this movie would have fared much better had Charlize Theron’s evil queen been left to her own devices. It makes it much more unbearable that she is this evil. Speaking of Theron, she’s quite good, only occasionally delving into melodrama. This melodrama I don’t think was entirely her fault. The film itself often got very close to being melodramatic many times. At times it was able to restrain; others it tipped into it and induced eye rolls. Chris Houldsworth (who does a mean impersonation of Chris Hemsworth or so Marianne tells me) was good, though he doesn’t really have a great deal of depth to provide in this movie. There’s a touching story about how he lost his wife. There is also a segment where he and Snow White meet this tribe of women who have scarred themselves as to be useless to the Queen. There is a terrific moment between he and the ‘leader’ of the tribe. It was such a touching scene I thought they were going to develop this into something that would allow him to move beyond the memory of his wife. Unfortunately the story didn’t go in that direction. Of all the characters the dwarves were the most disposable. They provide some comic relief but they didn’t really propel the story forward. They could easily have been replaced with a band of rogues. They just weren’t indispensable to the story.
The visuals are dynamite. In fact, at times they were so good it was actually distracting because I completely forget about any dialogue or story going on. I love technology and advances in what can be made to look real on screen is incredible but if you throw so much in that it draws attention to itself then you’re not serving the story. Director Rupert Sanders actually handles much of the film very well. Strong direction to the actors (more on this below) and the action sequences and more intimate moments were very nicely done.
And now for the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The picture. Kristen Stewart.
Up until now I have never seen her in anything except this. I haven’t seen any of ‘the vampire’ movies and I missed Runaways. And Panic Room is the only Fincher film I’ve never got around to watching (well that’s not entirely true, I skipped the Social Network on purpose.) I did see her on two late night talk shows and I was floored by how un-charismatic she was. Her interview was boring and she didn’t seem remotely interested in it. She was listless and just, well, banal.
But now I get it.
The reason why I choose the above image is because this is the first time we see the grown Snow White’s face completely. And from that moment, I could not take my eyes off her. It didn’t matter what was happening. It didn’t matter who she was with. If she was on the screen I was mesmerized. It wasn’t that she was ‘amazingly’ beautiful (Theron is certainly more gorgeous) but she has something about her, something that A) The camera adores, B) The director knew how to manipulate, C) Stewart herself taps into, and finally D) the production team rallied around. Rallied around not unlike the forces of good rally to Snow White in the film.
Ridicule me or not, Stewart took me by surprise just as she also took my breath away. I will be watching for her next film (well, the next one AFTER the vampire movie because nothing is getting me near that story.)
Stewart steals the movie. Plain and simple. She probably has about 10% of the dialogue that the Queen has. But she steps into that light, in the dark tower and the world becomes a place that you believe in. A place where good can be a virtue. Where purity, honesty and caring can break free from the sludge of things most foul.
She had me at that moment.