My TIME.com column today:
Many critics have faulted Snow White and the Huntsman for, oddly enough, an absence of heart. This is a peculiar criticism for a movie that takes great pains to establish the emotional complexity of its characters. Charlize Theron’s Queen Ravenna is a bipolar mix of steely goddess and unhinged harpie. But she’s also a genuinely tortured soul – with a history of sexual and emotional abuse. When was the last time we saw an action movie villain whose eyes filled with tears each time she embarked on a murder spree? SWATH is a triumph of feminist storytelling, not because the female leads look invincible, but because they are fully dimensional.
Other critics have suggested that all this feminist reimagining is eventually hijacked by an attempt to masculinize the story, literally dressing Snow White in a suit of armor. It’s true that things come to a predictable end, with a saber-rattling battle. But Director Rupert Sanders didn’t turn the two women leads into men: “That happens sometimes when films turn women into action heroes. But I made a decision not to have Kristen do anything that she wouldn’t realistically be able to do. The men follow her into battle because of the spirit within her…”
[Also: check out my earlier piece on Kristen Stewart, The Harsh Bigotry of Twilight Haters here.]