As you may have gathered from my last post, I have a particular dislike of Kristen Stewart. Her brand of “acting” is the kind that one rarely sees outside of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room (and no, I haven’t seen that film. Nostalgia Critic’s review of it was more than I could take). With that said, I think she was the only reason I was reluctant to see Snow White and the Huntsman because while the film had an interesting premise, I wasn’t sure if it could survive that bout of Stewart blandness.
But when I finally saw the movie I was surprised to find that Stewart wasn’t the main problem. In fact, she barely has enough dialogue to make an impact on the plot – which is a problem in and of itself, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
My initial thought was that the whole film was very underwhelming. It had a lot of good plot points that intrigued me at first, but in the end they just left me confused because they weren’t developed well enough. The Evil Queen (Charlize Theron) is actually a pretty good adaptation of the despised fairy tale character, and Theron plays her in a way that is just as sophisticated as Disney’s interpretation. Yes, at times the acting is over-dramatic, but I don’t think this ruins the overall effect of the character. What does ruin it, are the numerous plot holes that surround her. How did she get her powers? Why is she obsessed with her looks and so afraid ageing? Where did the mirror come from? The film teases the audience with tidbits of exposition, but honestly, if you’re not going to fully explain it then don’t bother dangling the information in front of us. It’s annoying!
Another aspect I have mixed feelings about is the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth). Although, my problem wasn’t with the portrayal of the character – in fact, I think very highly of Hemsworth’s acting (and this has nothing to do with how I felt about him in Thor). His character is great, the little back story we are given is satisfactory and I thought his story arc from angry cynic to a cynic who will at least fight for the future queen was pretty believable. I just didn’t buy the romantic subplot. At a stretch I could havee believed that he’d grown to care for her as a friend, but there was no discernible point where I felt he was falling in love with her. I know the script says the Huntsman fell for Snow White because she reminded him of his late wife, but there is a difference between feeling fond of someone who reminds you of someone you’ve lost, and genuinely having enough love for someone to wake them from a poisoned sleep.
And finally I come to our esteemed princess. Surprisingly, she got off to a good start. When she was acting I actually saw a spark of emotion on her face and her voice wasn’t so monotone. Maybe there was some good that came from that mediocre British accent. Unfortunately, Stewart peaked pretty early on in the movie, because once she’d escaped from the Queen’s castle she resumed giving the same performance that is typical of “Bella Swan” – staring off into space and making awkward conversation. But I don’t thin Stewart is entirely to blame for her lacklustre performance in this film. I think she is legitimately trying, but she isn’t given a lot of dialogue to help develop her character, which poses another problem.
For unexplained reasons, Snow White is deemed to be the saviour of the land. Ok, so obviously she has to go through a character arc and overcome several challenges in order to prove herself worthy of leading an army, right? Nope. She spends most of the movie being dragged around the land, hiding from the Queen and developing bonds with supernatural creatures that are – again – never fully explained. So my question is why would you trust someone who’s been locked up their whole life to lead your army?! She obviously has no experience and from what we see they don’t even bother training her. They hear her make one war speech and suddenly that seems like enough to lead hundreds of men to fight an all-powerful enemy. She was about as qualified to lead them as Elizabeth Swann was to be the Pirate King – not at all!
So it’s clear that my main problem with this film is the script. The actors are doing their best with the material they’ve been given and they actually do a really good job, but if the plot isn’t developed then none of that pays off. It’s possible that they had too many ideas for this story and they didn’t do a good job in development. It’s disappointing, but it happens. The only thing fans can hope is that the upcoming sequel will provide some answers. But if it’s as well-written as this movie, I wouldn’t hold my breath.