According to Kirby Ferguson, a smart guy with a website, 74 of the top 100 films in the last decade were sequels, remakes or adaptations, making Hollywood the world's most successful idea remixer. The trend continues this week with 2012's second film adaptation of the classic 1812 Brothers Grimm fairy tale, Snow White.
Snow White and the Huntsman opens Friday in both Whistler and Squamish and stars always-hot Kristen Stewart (Adventureland, Twilight) in the title role with Chris Hemsworth (Thor) as the Huntsman and Charlize Theron (Monster, Young Adult) as the evil Queen Ravena who needs to eat Snow's heart in order to maintain her power.
This ain't your grandparents Snow White. Sure, there are mirrors, dwarves and red apples but rather than lay around and wait for the Huntsman to be the hero, Stewart's Snow White trains with him and becomes a veritable shitkicker who takes it right back at the Queen.
It's a sign of the times. Princesses don't just stand around and watch like they used to in say, The Princess Bride (which rules) or classic Walt Disney. These days the chicks get their pretty little hands dirty, and bloody, and it works for me. Beauty is power, always has been, but a sword through the heart gets results, too. This one is more Joan of Arc than Mirror Mirror (with some Evil Dead, The Dark Knight, and Princess Mononoke in there as well).
Advertising and music video director Rupert Sanders takes his first swing at the feature-film piñata here, working from a script by newcomer Evan Daughtry with some help from Drive's Hossien Amini, and the end result is pretty good, albeit about 15 to 20 minutes too long. Walking the line between light and dark, Sanders pushes violence, subdues the comedy and barely ekes into the teen-friendly PG rating he needs. The visuals and effects are stunning, It looks and feels like a fairy tale ought to.
But it doesn't quite watch like one. Sanders falters with pacing and flow (some unnecessary slo-mo and a 126-minute run time) as well as characters. Kristen Stewart is always worth watching — although she often seems to be uncomfortable, grimacing like the princess and the pea — but she is essentially playing another love triangle role here, á la Twilight.
Chris Hemsworth delivers both comedic and dramatic chops but his role as the hard-drinking Huntsman is pretty underutilized. The dwarves are all recognizable English character actors but their story is sidelined almost totally, due to, I assume, Hobbit fatigue or perhaps the fact that no first-time director wants to be compared too closely to Peter Jackson and The Lord of The Rings. Fair enough.
The show stealer is Charlize Theron, one of the finest actresses of the past few years. She's vicious in this one and the effects team gives her all the best tricks. And yet, despite her evil, you almost want her to win in the end.
Overall, this Snow White is pretty good revisionist filmmaking and there are definitely some surprises in there even if you know the story well. Watch it for the actresses. Stewart, all youth and beauty, is trying to escape her Twilight typecast with an adaptation of Kerouac's On the Road later this summer. Theron, the still-solar-hot, Oscar-winning veteran is back next week in Promethius, Ridley Scott's Alien prequel. Advantage: Theron.
People with internet connections should also check out Kirby Ferguson's web videos on how everything from films to music to computers to our own DNA is a copy of something that came before. Hit up www.everythingisaremix.info/watch-the-series/.