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Last night I got stuck watching Snow White and the Huntsman for the second time, a fate I never would have imagined while squirming through my first viewing in a theater earlier this summer-- but someone had to review the Blu-ray, and sometimes you just draw the short straw. The experience was even more irritating with the clock on my Blu-ray player reminding me that an entire hour had elapsed before the dwarves showed up, or that there was an entire half-hour left when Snow White gave her rousing speech to the troops. When you're locked in a battle of wills with a movie that's driving you crazy, you start looking for any distraction to make it more bearable-- which is how Chris Hemsworth swooped in and saved me.
Though I accused him of being "as bored to be stuck with Snow White as we are" when I reviewed the movie back in June, Hemsworth's Huntsman stood out as easily the best thing in the movie on a second viewing, essentially the only character with a pulse in the whole thing. The character is basically Han Solo with an ax, a guy tossed into battle for the cash and squabbling constantly with the female lead, who you just know he's falling for deep down. Hemsworth plays him with a gruff Scottish accent and dingy brown hair, a long way from the grandiose and hyper-verbal Thor, but not falling into the "hunky hero" trap that Hemsworth's genes seem to have laid out for him from birth.
Nobody ought to see Snow White and the Huntsman just for Hemsworth, but being forced to sit through it did make me think about the guy a little more-- and the fact that, with four movies coming to theaters this year, he might be the biggest rising star who we're not appreciating on his own merits. In Hemsworth's two good movies to come out this year, Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers, he was praised alongside his ensemble but never really singled out; Fran Kranz was the bigger scene-stealer in Cabin, and there were so many stars out-acting each other in The Avengers it's a miracle the movie worked at all. Hemsworth has yet to give a film's flashiest performance-- even in his own movie Thor, Tom Hiddleston's Loki and Kat Dennings' Darcy get all the best lines-- but by never being boring in these solid roles, Hemsworth might be pulling off the biggest acting miracle of all.
In our Great Debate about who gave the best performance in The Avengers, neither Sean or I picked Hemsworth-- and in the accompanying poll, he only got 3% of the vote. But with The Avengers out on Blu-ray today, and Red Dawn coming to theaters in November, I think it's time to change that. Chris Hemsworth has dodged the trap of "hunky and bland hero" over and over again, in movies as different as Star Trek (he anchors what might be the film's best scene) and Thor and even the dull-dull-dull Snow White and the Huntsman. He's been saddled with impossible dialogue both deliberately silly (Thor's " This mortal form has grown weak. I need sustenance!") and not (SWATH's "Troll!"), and sold it like nobody else could. He's so handsome that he's not getting the kind of roles that earn "Best actor working today" recognition-- but he might be getting there.
So jump on the bandwagon with me early and get behind Chris Hemsworth as not just a likable movie star, but a talented actor who's capable of just about anything. Remember, last time I stuck my neck out in support of a hunk who nobody thought was that talented, he proved me very right.
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