Snow White and the Huntsman remixes the elements of the classic tale — talking mirrors, poisoned apples, evil queens, cranky dwarves — with epic Tolkien scope and a dark Game of Thrones-like edge. (Watch the trailer below.) After the maniacal queen (Charlize Theron) orders a hit on Snow White, the young woman becomes a medieval warrior, teaming up with the hitman huntsman to defeat the queen. Though critics are split on the film, most are flagging the same flaw: Kristen Stewart's performance as the title character. "She is laughably bad, alternating between two facial expressions with her mouth half-open," says Variety's Jeff Sneider. The Twilight star flounders miserably in the role, concurs Salon's Andrew O'Hehir. Might the film have succeeded with a different lead actress?
Yes. She's woefully miscast...: Stewart is hilariously ill-suited to play a "Joan of Arc-like medieval action heroine," says Dana Stevens at Slate. Her "slouchy bearing and general aura of passivity" make it impossible to buy the notion that her Snow White boasts the kind of irresistible charisma that leads peasant revolts. Stewart is a talented actress who shines in contemporary roles — the "moony" Bella in Twilight, or the alluring female lead in Adventureland — but the ridiculous image of her storming a castle in full battle armor evokes "one of those parody trailers that opened up Ben Stiller's Tropic Thunder."
"Snow White and the Huntsman"
...And outshined by Charlize Theron: The film's fatal flaw is that the Evil Queen is far more fun to root for than Snow White, says Moira Macdonald at The Seattle Times. As the Queen, Theron smolders in fabulously-feathered gowns and wears contemptuous gazes that say, "I might kill you, but I might be too bored. Let me decide." All that ferociousness is pitted against, "well, Bella Swan in a corset." While Theron's Queen is a "malevolent joy" Stewart's Snow White is dead weight. The final face-off is immensely dissatisfying — we know how the fairy tale ends, but wish it would go the other way.
"Charlize Theron's evil Queen steals the spotlight in Snow White"
Enough with the Stewart bashing: Personally, I think the Twilight star is the lynchpin to the film's success, says Betsy Sharkey at the Los Angeles Times. Her Snow White must be believable as a fierce heroine driven by destiny, hellbent on righting the wrongs of her kingdom and willing to risk her life to do it. "None of it would work" without Stewart's steely performance as "the bough that will not break." Her characteristic "soulful eyes and exposed heart" have never been used to greater effect. She kicks butt while crafting a fully-realized character, "a warrior princess for the ages."
"Forget fair, Snow White and the Huntsman is fierce"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- Comic-Con 2014: Everything we learned about Avengers 2, Batman v. Superman, and more
- The big, gaping hole in the liberal policy arsenal
- 7 ideas from ancient thinkers that will improve your modern life
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- How to trim $500 from your monthly spending
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
- A gay Mormon's complicated journey
- Blame Obama and U.S. evangelicals for the persecution of Iraqi Christians
Subscribe to the Week