About 80 years ago Walt Disney transformed a centuries old fairy tale into a film that not only established animation as a viable format for films, but also has captivated generations of children (and older). Here in the twenty first century director Rupert Sanders and a team of writers (a team of writers isn’t a great start…) attempt to re-imagine the classic for today’s average cinema goer, i.e. one brought up on the stodgy diet of super hero films and “massive robots hitting each other” blockbusters.
What we are treated to is a film which has been designed with utmost care and precision, the costumes, the world, the battle scenes and the sets look amazing. In fact the battle scenes were some of the most exciting and imaginative I’ve seen in a film for a VERY long time. Most modern action films seem to just throw people with swords at each other and hope that we’ll enjoy it. WRONG. Here we actually care somewhat about the outcome; the stakes really are high and stacked against our protagonists, so for the most part, they’re genuinely enjoyable.
I honestly wish I could say the same for the acting of the two leading ladies… Charlize Theron (Oscar winner) and Kristen Stewart (winner of MTV’s best kiss award two years running…) are the two opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of their acting plan. Theron is about as OTT as possible as the evil queen Ravenna, so much so that I was close to laughing out loud a number of times. Stewart on the other hand took being nice as being boring; she looked the part, but was rarely convincing as the “pure” snow white. On top of their severe lack of commitment and effort, the writing gave the impression that this was more of a rehearsal, almost as if it was only the first draft of the script (“its good enough” say the execs determined to make as much money as possible).
This was Rupert Sanders’ directorial debut and it really shows, it’s almost as if he was too scared to direct his stars or criticise the dodgy writing. He really should have, because it’s a thoroughly underwhelming effort.
Yes it has some good battles and the all star cast of dwarves and Chris Hemsworth as the huntsman are great fun, but ultimately the two leads just aren’t strong enough to hold this beautifully designed film up. It’s a shame, it was very almost my new favourite blockbuster.