Snow White & the Huntsman
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From the producer of Alice in Wonderland comes a new vision that turns a legendary tale into an action-adventure epic. The evil Queen Ravenna (Academy Award winner Charlize Theron) will rule forever if she can take the life of Snow White (Kristen Stewart), so she dispatches the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to track her down. But the wicked ruler never imagined that the Huntsman would train the girl to become a brave warrior, skilled in the art of war. Filled with intense battles and spectacular visual effects, Snow White & the Huntsman is a thrilling experience that “shouldn’t be missed” – Shawn Edwards, Fox-TV.
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The good. The camerawork is absolutely stunning, the special effects as well. Your eyes tell you that there is a marvelous film before you, but that is as far as it goes. I have to say, before I start the bashing, that Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth try their absolute hardest making something out of the lines that they are given. Their performances were touching (Theron more so than the rest) and they at least gave some substance to it. Hemsworth carried most of the film when Theron wasn't in the picture. If it were just a story between the two of them, even with the horrible lines that they were given, it would have been at least a four star film.
Now for the bad, and when I say bad, I mean terrible. I never had much of an opinion about Kristen Stewart before this movie. I steadfastly stayed away from Twilight so I thought I had a pretty clean slate to judge going into this. Stewart, who plays Snow White, has been locked in a tower for years only to escape right before the Queen (Theron), who killed her father the King, kills her and takes her heart. Needless to say, after somehow finding this out in a slightly perverted scene, Snow White runs away. Then she runs away again after she loses her magic pony (actually, she abandons him). Then the Huntsman joins in and he runs away with her too. At some point there's a Troll for all of 30 seconds, then scarred women for another minute or so. At about the 1 hour mark we finally meet the dwarves. Throughout all of this, we maybe get 10 mumbled lines from Stewart. I can't say that this is entirely her fault. It is the writing that is terrible. But then we get to the acting. I swear, every single time Hemsworth spoke to Stewart you could see the pleading in his eyes. It's as if he were trying to say, "Please, give me some sort of emotion to go on!!" Alas, Stewart just stares back at him and breathes. Literally. This is the Snow White we get. A breathing, slightly constipated looking girl who squints off into the distance looking slightly befuddled. You can almost tell that the director is obsessed with Stewart from all of the closeups you get of her. I mean after about the 20th time I get it. She's beautiful. Now show me something MORE. I mean, Snow White, you were LOCKED AWAY in a TOWER for YEARS after witnessing the DEATH of your FATHER and the FALL of your KINGDOM. Any human being would have had some sort of melt down, but all we get is Stewart, looking beautiful. Hasn't anyone told these people that looks can only get you so far?
It was the wooden lead that sealed it for me. No matter how good the surrounding cast, you need a great lead to carry such a heavy weight of a film. Oh, and let's not forget to mention the patch work editing and dead dialogue that made it even worse. I was literally writhing in pain and hitting my forehead with my fist by the time it ended. Truly, it was pure agony to sit through for anyone who likes backstory and acting.
If you want to watch a visually stunning film, this is the movie for you. Before you go watch it though, I strongly suggest that you just mute out the scenes with Stewart, which is most of the film. After all, wasn't it only visual beauty that the director was trying to portray?
The fairest of them all truly is only skin deep.
It's a darker iteration, grittier, moodier, more full-blooded. I think the Brothers Grimm would've approved of this interpretation; it matches their gristly sensibilities more. If you've brushed up on the fairy tale, then you know the kernel of the story. SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN tweaks and embellishes on that. When the vain and vile but oh-so-beautiful witch Ravenna (Theron) murders her husband, the king, on their wedding night, it upends the kingdom, sinks it into a realm of despair and oppression. We also learn that this is only the most recent in a long series of regicides that Ravenna has committed. The king had one young daughter, Snow White, lovely and bright and pure, whom Ravenna promptly sentences to incarceration in the castle dungeons. For years Snow White languishes in wretched confinement.
I don't know how I feel about how the magic mirror is presented, the film granting it the ability to metamorphose, liquid metal like, into a faceless, flowing figure that stands before Ravenna whenever she extends that one familiar question. I get that they were trying to change it up with the mirror, but then they forgot the follow-thru. so, the mirror can assume a form. And then what? And then nothing.
In the story I read ages ago, the huntsman takes Snow White into the woods, at the Queen's behest, and in the woods the huntsman was tasked with carving out Snow White's lungs and liver (if I remember it right) as proof of her demise. But the huntsman demonstrates mercy and allows Snow White to flee. He instead presents to the queen the lungs and liver of a boar, and so the queen comes to believe that Snow White was indeed deaders. And so the huntsman exits the tale. But you only have to glance at the film's title to get a whiff that the huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), this time out, lands a meatier role, sticks around a bit longer.
Another fashion in which this film veers away from the fairy tale we know (**coughDisneyAnimatedFilmcough**): I like that there's only a smidgen of romance, but I like that the smidge that IS there is crucial to the plot. Not to get all Twilighty, but the story does force you to choose a camp to follow: that of the surly, drunken huntsman What'shisface or Snow White's childhood pal and the Duke's dashing son, William (Sam Claflin). Note that William is a bowman who seems to rival the Avengers' Hawkeye in uncanny marksmanship. Meanwhile, I think Chris Hemsworth exhibits solid acting chops, lending tortured depth and melancholia to his huntsman. He takes a Scottish accent out for a spin, and I'm gullible enough or listened to James Doohan enough to be convinced by it. But the trailers to ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER put Hemsworth's axe-work to shame.
SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN flaunts a secret weapon, or rather, eight secret weapons, in the shapes of dwarves. It kinda sucks for actual dwarf actors out there, because the film employs normal-height actors who then were CG'd down to Gimli-size. But, then again, Peter Dinklage is damn busy nowadays. These contentious dwarves - as played by the likes of Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, and Nick Frost - end up stealing many scenes.
It's a stunning-looking movie, or to quote my date: "Ohhh, so pretty!" Rupert Sanders, after a career of helming snazzy advertisements, makes his debut as a feature film director. He brings along that same eye for spectacular visuals. He lends a spooky and foreboding atmosphere to the twisted Black Forest, and it marks Snow White's abject desperation that she elects to seek dubious sanctuary within its sickly boughs. When tree branches make it a habit to transform into serpents, I tend to wonder where I left my chainsaw (sorry, tree huggers). Conversely, Sanders' depiction of the fairyland is pretty damn wondrous and speaks to that inner child still in you (yes, even you). The narrative further expands to allow for Snow's encounter (or yell-off) with a bridge troll, and, later, with a tribe of females that had committed self-mutilation rather than face the Queen's attention. The film's final action flourish consists of the almost requisite epic battle. I've gotta credit Kristen Stewart. She does have presence and she does have charisma. Or maybe those eyes suckered me in. She rolls off that hokey rousing rally speech and just about pulls it off, and that with a British accent (that, okay, occasionally strays). Still, maybe my favorite bit - and I realize I kind of pooh-poohed the romantic angle earlier - concerns the kiss that galvanizes the poisoned princess. I saw it coming, I'm sure you'll see it coming, but it was still a very strong scene. An "Oh, yeah!" kinda scene. Crap, there goes my mushy side. Great. Now even my date is telling me to man up.
The DVD's bonus stuff:
- Option to view the film in either the Theatrical version (02:07:12 hours) or the Extended Edition (02:11:30 hours)
- Audio Commentary by director Rupert Sanders, visual effects supervisor Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, and co-editor Neil Smith
- "A New Legend is Born: Director's Vision Comes to Life" - behind-the-scenes featurette that explores various elements of the film such as the incredible art design, the stunts, the locations, the special effects, etc. (00:20:53 minutes)