Every few years, some bright spark at a Hollywood studio thinks of revisiting the classic fairytales, giving them a modern twist and making them ‘relevant’. The results are rarely pretty – anyone recall ‘Snow White: A Tale of Terror’? – but it’s hard to remember an example quite as embarrassingly misguided as ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’.
Kristen Stewart plays Snow White, the daughter of a benevolent king who’s bumped off by his maniacal man-hating wife, Ravenna (Charlize Theron), aka the Wicked Queen. Fleeing to the Dark Forest (the film is full of these obnoxious postmodern ‘look, it’s a fairytale!’ touches), Snow White makes the acquaintance of the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), a rough-diamond loner with a dark past and the worst Glaswegian accent since Mike Myers did Fat Bastard.
Pretty average so far. But then the dwarfs turn up, and the true horror begins. Wait, that’s not Bob Hoskins is it? And it can’t possibly be… Ray Winstone? But it is – and Toby Jones, Ian McShane, Nick Frost, Johnny Harris and Eddie Marsan, too. The cream of British acting talent has been digitally shrunken and saddled with haircuts that make them look like a midget Slade tribute band, gambolling about in a forest glade so sickeningly CG-sweet it looks like an advert for air freshener.
Unsurprisingly, it’s all downhill from there. Perhaps the filmmakers thought that having Stewart strap on a scabbard and go looking for some queenly ass to kick would make this a modern girl-power parable, but in fact the opposite is true: by placing so much focus on Theron’s preening, psychologically scarred Ravenna, the film feels deeply reactionary. The tone is wildly uneven, skipping from humourless knockabout slapstick to bizarre psychedelic whimsy to sub-‘Game of Thrones’ swordplay without ever getting close to likeable or charming. The result is witless, heartless and dull. Even the Twi-hards are going to want their money back.