"Close your eyes and think of England!" -- which is generally good advice for any occasion.
It's funny to me! Here we are in a supposedly secular, informal, democratic, non-royal country and we are surrounded by queens wearing crowns and coronets. We are "queen" crazy.
There is a wonderful photo of the queen of England in Newsweek, taken from the rear with her white curls neatly tucked under a diamond coronet. We imagine so vividly her serene countenance as she walks away under her crown and ermine fur with one white glove showing. These days, the queen has escaped from the "annus horribilus" phase of her relative's domestic mishaps and is entering her Jubilee Moment in a reign that brings in billions to Great Britain's needy coffers. The queen is a star and celebrity of the first magnitude and to suggest the Brits get rid of the royal family would be like closing down Hollywood and Toronto.
The other queen is actress Charlize Theron. I think, after Angelina Jolie, she is just about Hollywood's rare-these-days royal real movie star. (Let's exempt Meryl Streep from this. She is the Empress Star!)
But on screen as the wicked stepmother in "Snow White and the Huntsman," Charlize is the star to wish upon. In fact, when she is not onscreen, this movie suffers drastically from tedious, boring, clanging fights and running through disgusting forests and swimming in the dark, through holes in mountains. Ugh!
And I, personally, wouldn't let a child under 9 go to see this movie. It has so many unusually "icky" violent, unnecessary bloody and pointless moments.
Little girls yearning for ballet slippers, princess crowns and Prince Charmings would be frightened to death. (Maybe that would be all to the good!)
The story's premise is that none but the innocent virgin Snow White can kill the Wicked Queen, and the Wicked Queen must eat Snow White's heart to gain immortality and eternal beauty. OK -- it's a plot theory by the Brothers Grimm. But here it is just grim. Boring -- people for hours are running away from the Wicked Queen when she's the only really compelling thing in this movie. (Just as she was, I might add, when Walt Disney first gave her the poisoned apple.)
But Disney didn't then have CGI and enhanced noise and ultraviolence. The banging of swords off shields and armored horses is deafening. Snow White outfitted as a "knight" in perfectly fitting sudden armor (a moment before she was in rags) is simply impossible and at the end she is a mindless person being crowned with a mix of Middle Ages artifacts, crowns, crosses and gilding. No better than any queen. This Snow White simpers.
The thing I can't stand also is the vicious violence. The Huntsman, hanged upside down from a tree with his hands tied, is beaten with so many loud extravagant blows that he'd at the least have several concussions, a couple of compound fractures, and all his ribs broken. But no, he stands right up and goes on hustling.
This is a good place to cite the leading man, Chris Hemsworth, one of the few reasonable, believable characters and actors in this movie. As a sentimental, dirty drunk, he is magnificent in his good will and innocence and bravery.
Miss Theron -- to never fail to get back to her -- is fabulous, sexy in her believability, invincible as they age her over and over, bouncing back in all her extravagant wickedness and shouting like a modern fishwife, who is irritated and impatient: "Get out! Get out!" to servants. Her gown and costumes by Colleen Atwood are almost worth the money it must have all cost.
But no, because we constantly cut away to Kristen Stewart the nondescript Snow White (she is more beautiful than the queen?) running away, seeming always bewildered, non- plussed, unrealistic and in spite of her magical qualities, never putting them to any use except for a lot of physical exertion, swimming, running, climbing and falling in exhaustion.
They have put the heads of a lot of fine British actors on the bodies of dwarves here; and I didn't find it charming. In fact, I thought this was the most absurd part of the movie. As the good guys run to escape, you are always wondering when we'll go back to the Wicked Queen.
Charlize Theron, an Oscar winner who will do anything for her art, even lets the movie kill her with old age. She's beautiful and dynamic, even as a crone. (Just as she remained beautiful in "Young Adult," in which she was made to appear haggard, playing a woman desperately clinging to her youth. Theron herself is a "child" of 37.)
"Snow White and the Huntsman" is overwrought! And, it had the most horrible "invited" audience of half-dressed young people who all sat playing with phones lighted throughout. They were wearing tank-top underwear, sagging pants, super shorts, backward caps. They were the epitome of 21st century "casual."
No wonder we cling to Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Glamour, Elle these days. In their couture unreality, they are the Wicked Queens of glamour. Thank God for a little bit of that!
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)