SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN—-‘sleeper’ generally connotes a movie few have seen, but we enlarge the definition to bring in a hit that many blithely shun out of prejudice around subject matter. This $170,000,000 production from 2012 took in nearly $397,000,000 worldwide, but if you scorned it as merely another display of special effects (it did get one of its Oscar nominations in that category) and tiresome Good v. Evil kiddie fare you missed a superlative eruption of ne plus ultra Mean Queen from Charlize Theron.
Rupert Sanders first directorial feature is a decidedly dark take on the durable Brothers Grimm battle between Snow White (Kristen Stewart) and the wicked Queen (here named ‘Ravenna’, played by Theron). The film was in competition that same year with the lighter themed Mirror Mirror : they both followed the 2005 Terry Gilliam misstep The Brothers Grimm.
Overlong at 127 minutes, the script goes awry, and the telling suffers from a glum, starved-for-inspiration Kristen Stewart in the lead, drawing the films harshest reviews. The Seven Dwarfs are played straight by Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Toby Jones, Eddie Marsan, Johnny Harris and Brian Gleeson (son of Brendan). *
The Huntsman is put across with requisite muscularity by a serviceable Chris Hemsworth. Art direction, costumes (also Oscar-nominated along with Visual Effects), James Newton Howard’s score, the CGI effects are all duly impressive, but the chief reason to watch is for Theron’s magnetic, volcanic rip-it-up of the irreparably wounded, imperious and merciless Ravenna. It’s the kind of stops-pulled performance that would garner major awards nominations were it let fly in a ‘serious drama’ instead of a genre piece.
With Sam Claflin, Sam Spruell (nasty secondary villain), Vincent Regan and Raffey Cassidy.
*Hoskins, suffering from Parkinson’s, stopped acting after this project. He passed two years later at 71.