As summer draws to a close, this is on my short list of the best movies I saw. I know, I know. How can this be? Simple: Charlize Theron. She is incredible in this movie, chewing up her scenes and spitting them back out. And the filmmakers, whenever she is there, rise to her level creating visual and narrative moments that are inventive and beautiful. In fact, the first twenty minutes of this movie are better than anything I saw this summer bar nothing.
The weakness of the movie is everything not involving Theron. Kristen Stewart is as awkward as Anne Hatheway but without Hatheway’s redeeming self-consciousness. Hatheway always seems to know something’s not working right, that something’s not clicking, but she is trying goddammit, and it’s gonna happen, really, just give it a minute.
Stewart on the other hand struts around without a clue, all awkward slouch and creepy eyes-only-half-open stares, biting her lip, thinking that these things add up to something like a character or an emotion or that, and this is the worst of all, that it is sexy. She is quite simply unwatchable.
When she is on-screen and her story unfolds, nothing is inventive or beautiful. Instead, the gears of the machine creak and churn and the ground up bits of influence float to the surface undigested and ugly. The Dwarves are badly done, embarrassingly so, and difficult to watch. The Huntsman’s role makes no sense.
But Theron, Theron, Theron. She kept popping back into the story and every single time she did, the screen lit up with her performance and the filmmakers’ excitement. I’d watch it again, just for those moments. And fastforward through the rest.