Thursday, May 31, 2012

Snow White & the Huntsman Review: Twilight, Meet Medieval Times!

Snow White and the Huntsman (By Alicexz, Deviant Art)

Once upon a time there was a classic tale with good actors, stunning visuals, a terrible script, and an inexperienced director. Out of this mythical mixture came Snow White and the Huntsman. The latter two ingredients spoil the batch. Similar to most bad movies, the writer and the director should bear the brunt of the blame, but this film may also be a victim of its own marketing. The promoters of Snow White and the Huntsman pumped excessively high expectations and millions of dollars into television spots, trailers, snippets, and images. Perhaps the marketers promised more than first-time director Rupert Sanders could deliver.

The marketers wisely focused on the lovely and talented Charlize Theron, rather than the lead Kristen Stewart. This was a well-played slight of hand, as the Wicked Queen is an illustrious figure in the fairy tale and Theron’s performance is captivating. However, the Theron-centric marketing is misleading, after all the film is called "Snow White and the Huntsman." Clearly these promoters are exceptional and had they been hired for John Carter, that film would have been saved from oblivion.

Snow White and the Huntsman loosely follows the classic tale: the good king and queen have a daughter with skin as white as snow, hair as black as night, lips as red as blood, and they name her Snow White. When the good queen dies, the good king Magnus (Noah Huntley) falls in love with the beguiling and beautiful Ravenna (Charlize Theron). Ravenna suspiciously appears as a captive of a supernatural army made of obsidian--just a typical day in the kingdom.

If you blink you may miss how quickly Ravenna marries the king, kills him, and imprisons Snow White. The Wicked Queen’s ‘I Capture the Castle’ moment is when the movie starts to lose its way. The film's trailer reveals that Snow White escapes from Ravenna, who then sends her creepy brother (Sam Spruell) and the Huntsman to find her. The Huntsman is played by the very manly Chris Hemsworth (AvengersThor). Hemsworth is well-cast as the Huntsman, but he isn’t well utilized. The Huntsman has an interesting backstory as a widower and a drunkard, but it isn't thoroughly explored.

One interesting aspect of the film is the Wicked Queen’s motivations. Various iterations of the fairy tale depict the Queen as being motivated by vanity. Snow White and the Huntsman smartly gives Ravenna’s character additional emotional depth. As Theron is the most interesting character in the film, the glimpse into the Wicked Queen’s psyche is all too brief.

The film soon diverts itself to Snow White’s quest into the dark forest. Snow White easily convinces the Huntsman to help her and luckily he gives her two-minutes of sword training, which she puts to good use later. The film follows the familiar trail down the primrose path: she meets the dwarves, charms the friendly critters of the forest, including a troll, and is deceived into eating an apple by the Queen. The dwarves are played by familiar faces, including Bob Hoskins and Ray Winstone. Your eyes do not deceive you, these men may be short in stature but they are not dwarves. They have been shrunk down to dwarf-height by the magic of CGI.

This is when the film falls off a cliff. The Huntsman’s backstory is interesting enough and the Queen’s backstory is equally compelling, but a boiling pot of water would be more interesting than Snow White. This is partially due to the lackluster writing and partially due to casting. Kristen Stewart is completely miscast as the lead and is a poor match for both Theron and Hemsworth. Given Stewart’s limited acting range (from pouty to petulant), she is simply outmatched.

When all else fails, the writers turn Snow White into a warrior princess. With an army behind her, she storms the castle, sword and shield in hand. No doubt the writers were trying to spice things up, albeit illogically. Strong empowered, women are enjoyable to watch (i.e. HaywireColombiana, La Femme Nikita, etc.), but here it makes no sense. How does a young maiden locked in a tower all her life, with no training learn to swing a sword like a warrior? Perhaps Snow White is a quick study?
Snow White and the Huntsman is not without meat, but somewhere along the way the bones went missing. If only the writers were a little more daring the film could have been great. Snow White and the Huntsmancould have been the next Legend (1985), Excalibur, or even The Lord of the Rings. Instead, we get another installment of the Twilight saga vis-à-vis medieval times. The Huntsman is Edward, Prince William (Sam Claflin) is Jacob, and you can guess who Bella is.

Snow White and the Huntsman does have fantastical elements laced throughout the film, but the majority of which are focused on the Queen. The most fantastical aspect of Snow White’s journey is when she charms the cute little animals of the forest…Disney-style. None of this however, is enough to save this film. When you start to cross your fingers in hopes that it will turn into a grim fairy tale, thus saving you from boredom, the writers have failed. Snow White and the Huntsman is worth viewing, but save yourself some extra cash and go to the matinee or the $1.50 Theater.

  • Charlize Theron as the Wicked Queen is a sight to behold. She proves for the umpteenth time why she’s not just a pretty face, but an Oscar winner. 'Beauty is her power,' but so is acting. Theron herself is worth the price of admission. Theron deserved a better movie and so does everyone else.
  • Chris Hemsworth is a fine and capable actor who has more depth than the script provides him.
  • The Visual effects are well done, especially the visual effects surrounding Theron, including her costuming and the props. The effects of the enchanted mirror are equally impressive particularly when the mirror pours out like golden liquid magma.
  • Love triangle - Rather than reinvent the fairy tale, Snow White and the Huntsman lazily introduces a love triangle. The Huntsman doubles as Prince Charming, whilst Prince Charming tries to be a huntsman. Why settle for Prince Charming when you can have Thor?
  • Kristen Stewart is not a bad actor. She’s just miscast. She doesn’t have the versatility or the experience needed for this role. The film needed a stronger female lead.
  • Lack of imagination – Overall, the film suffers most from a lack of imagination. One doesn’t expect a fairy tale film to reinvent the wheel, but this is a fantasy film. The sky is the limit. This is the one genre in which writers can draw outside of the lines. The film wasn’t nearly ambitious enough. It could have been so much more. The warrior princess angle could have worked were it not so poorly written. Perhaps some key scenes landed on the cutting room floor, but don’t expect the audience to know that.


  1. I didn't want to hear that! I'm still going tomorrow.

  2. Still gonna go. I'm a sucker for all things Chris Hemsworth. LOL I'm so shallow...*hangs head in shame*

    That trailer is epic, though.

  3. RE: No, I have not seen Prometheus. I am determined to recover as soon as possible. I heard the opinions of people who have seen it and they have spoken very well about this movie. :)

  4. I still plan on going - the trailer looks great

  5. I've been reading that this is the general view of this movie and that includes Prometheseus as well!

  6. I keep reading bad reviews. I wanted to like it as well.

  7. I didn't like this movie well enough to recommend it to others, either. While there were some good action scenes, the shakycam obscured them enough to prevent them from being really entertaining.


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