by James Franco
Snow White and the Huntsman looks great and the actors are fabulous. The film gives us everything that it should: beauty, danger, romance, action, fantasy and a rewarding ending. Of course, this movie isn’t breaking new narrative ground — who expected that? In fact, the script by Evan Daugherty — a fellow NYU film school grad — is more than loyal to the familiar set pieces of the original story: three drops of blood on the snow, fair skin, dark hair, a wicked witch, a magic mirror, dwarves and a poisoned apple. The main addition to the classic tale is forecasted in the title. The Huntsman, played by handsome Chris Hemsworth, steals the meat of the role traditionally played by the dwarves: bonding with Snow White out in the woods. His presence means the film has less time to explore the dynamics of the makeshift family with the dwarves, which would be forgivable if only his romantic connection with Snow White were given enough space to develop properly.
Some critics might go after the actors for being flat — Nana said it seemed like Hemsworth was playing Thor in different clothes, and Iris, who worked on the first two Twilight films, praised Stewart but was still reminded of Bella Swan. We discussed, and Iris and Nana came around. They blamed the actors less — I mean, the actors are going to look like themselves from movie to movie; it’s not like they’re character actors — and started to look at the material they’d been given to work with. If Stewart and Hemsworth don’t entirely pull off the romance of the year, it’s the fault not of their acting as much as the script’s structure. And if their previous incarnations are trailing them, that has less to do with their performances than with the overwhelmingly large place their previous roles occupy in our present culture. Whether they heed it or not, those two are under a ton of pressure: Is Chris just an unusually rugged man with a deep voice, or can he play anything other than a Norse god? Is Kristen just a pouty Vampire lover riding a temporary wave of pop culture madness, or is she the real deal? I believe that they are both talented and special performers who make the most of their material in this film. What’s interesting is the way its story parallels the plight of the actors themselves.
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