Kristen Stewart is the weakest link in Snow White & the Huntsman

Shocker? Not really. But it sure does spoil Snow White and the Huntsman‘s full potential. Which is a shame because there so much to like in this rendition of the Grimm fairy tale.

First time director Rupert Sanders does pretty well when you think of the scale of this film. Visually, it is stunning.  The set design and the look of the film are awesome.  The costumes are elaborate and realistic.  The creature effects are cool (the wood fay and the troll are very sweet!).  The mythology is solid and interesting (I wanted more mythology–it would’ve given the narrative more depth).  With all that, Sanders is able to create a believable universe and that can be difficult to do with this kind of material.

I especially loved the effects surrounding the evil queen–actually, I loved everything about the evil queen.  Charlize Theron is fantastic!  Truly evil.  That level of evil is usually toned down, but here Theron revels in it.  She is even able to bring a shimmer of vulnerability and sadness to her role and that stands as a testament to her talent.

Chris Hemsworth continues his rise and does well as the Huntsman.  He is charismatic and you want to cheer for him. (Hemsworth has the ever mysterious “it”–whatever “it” is–he has it.) Sad, brave, strong and heroic, the Huntsman is the character I wish I knew more about.

The seven dwarfs are also a treat.  They were able to assemble some fine actors (Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Bob Hoskins, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones and Johnny Harris) to portray these characters, but again–I wanted more.

I wanted more…seems to be the issue here.  This movie felt like the outline of a greater story that needed to be told.  There are so many opportunities to deepen the narrative that are never taken advantage of.  I would have loved to see more of the evil queen’s origins.  I would have loved to see the Huntsman’s self-destructive spiral, so I could appreciate his heroic turn.

And this leads me to the biggest problem…Kristen Stewart‘s Snow White.  Stewart is unable to infuse Snow White with…anything.  She is too wooden (the female Keanu Reeves :D).  All her emotions seem to be the same.  Fear? Love? Wonder? Pain? All of them–indistinguishable.

Even with the rich mythology–Snow does little more than stumble around and look towards the horizon/woods/castle/etc…expectantly? (If that is what the expression is supposed to be.)  I am not sure if her lack of talent  forced this boring characterization, but it weakens the film.   Stewart pales in comparison to ALL her co-stars–maybe it should have been called The Evil Queen and the Huntsman.

 

I can only imagine how much I would have loved it, if it had a bit more substance and a stronger Snow White.  It could have been a fantasy classic.  Could have.  Now I hear there is a sequel in the works and I can only hope that Miss Stewart is busy doing something else.  Fingers crossed.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter? Yeah…it’s what I thought it would be

When I first saw the trailer I thought…wow! that’s utterly ridiculous and yet, it looks sort of fun.  I was dead right (no pun intended).  Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter ends up being a predictable, absurd narrative that happens to have some cool action sequences and some pretty solid acting.  But, unfortunately the ridiculous overpowers the rest in the long run.

Trust me.  I went into this completely aware of what I was getting myself into.  And as you may know by now, I do not apologize for liking senseless violence and carnage, at times.  And I know the genre may take it easy on plot and substance, but it usually makes up for it with badassness.  (Yeah, I like Underworld and Riddick, what about it? :D)  So, I was hoping ALVH would deliver along those lines and it kind of did.  Kind of.

The main attraction for me was director Timur Bekmambetov.  (I really enjoyed his 2008 film Wanted because it fulfilled the above requirements.)  He has a unique, stylized way of filming and thought, at least, it would look amazing.  I was right there too.  Bekmambetov creates a dark atmosphere that permeates throughout.  His action scenes are exaggerated and unrealistic, but hey…whatcha gonna do? Laugh it off.  There was a lot of laughing–and I do not think that was the intention.  Some sequences (like the horse stampede) were so over-the-top  that it took me completely out of it.  But, at least the vampires are nasty and look cool.

The novelist Seth Grahame-Smith also turned out the screenplay and I appreciated the clever connections to history, but felt he could not decide if he wanted this to be full-out fun or serious.  What resulted is an uneven story, that keeps changing tone and never truly captivates.

The cast is strong and they all take this seriously (maybe too much so).  Benjamin Walker is perfect as Lincoln but is only able to tap into either rage and vengeance or wise and sullen. Not truly fleshed out.  Dominic Cooper is way too cool for this movie–but doesn’t have much to work with.  Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd is really just a plot device–sad because she is lovely.   Rufus Sewell tries to reach for villainous heights but falls short–mostly because he is onscreen too little.  I am a fan a Anthony Mackie, but he too is only a plot device.  Well, as you can tell…all character development is rushed and there are many things we are TOLD to understand.  Abe falls for Mary–we may not see that happen–but trust them–it happens.  Mackie’s Will is Abe’s best friend–when? how?–don’t worry–he just is.  You get the idea.

Bottom line?  If you have low expectations and are clear on what you’re in for, you may enjoy yourself a little.  Otherwise you may want to skip this one.  Honest Abe killing vamps turned out to be pretty silly after all.