Chris Hemsworth and Kristen Stewart in Snow White and the Huntsman.
This umpteenth take on the famous Grimm's fairy tale offers up a mixed bag of tricks. It's visually stunning but the story meanders and it lacks a sense of humor. Charlize Theron seems like she's in a different movie altogether. Everyone else plays it straight and the atmosphere is kept somber; even the dwarfs -when they finally show up midway through the movie- fail to bring much humor to the proceedings. Charlize alone seems to get the underlying campiness. She hams it up as the wicked Queen Ravenna. Meanwhile the director is trying to remake The Lord of the Rings.
Snow White and the Huntsman doesn't stray too far from the original story. The kingdom is expanded on and there are some new details added. The biggest difference is in the huntsman character. He's been promoted from a minor supporting player to the hero. And Snow White isn't a helpless victim, she's a butt kicking, self-reliant warrior princess. But rest assured she remains pure of heart.
Kristen Stewart plays Snow White with the same dour expression and subdued mannerisms she exhibits in all the Twilight movies (and just like Bella she must choose between two suitors). She handles the tomboy action scenes well enough and I get why many young girls look up to her but the teen angst act is getting old real fast. And her looks aren't stunning enough to believably threaten Theron's Queen Ravenna as the most beautiful woman in all the land.
The movie starts strong. We get a bit of background info showing Snow White's birth and how her father lost his kingdom to his conniving new wife, Snow White's wicked stepmother. We then skip ahead a few years and witness Snow White's daring escape from her tower prison. This distressed damsel doesn't wait for Prince Charming to come rescue her; she overpowers the evil queen's equally evil brother using only a rusty nail. She then evades her captors by going out Shawshank Redemption style and escaping through the sewers.
From here the story starts to lose its way a bit. Snow White seems to wander through the Dark Forest for quite some time. She meets the huntsman and they share a few adventures together without his even realizing she's the princess, which does nothing to speed up the pace. Eventually they cross paths with the seven dwarfs, who turn out to be less funny here than in just about every other version of the story that I've seen. This is soon followed by a scene where they travel through the Land of the Fairies where they encounter many fantastical creatures. It's supposed to be enchanting and magical but it only serves to bring the already slow pace to a standstill. The queen eventually shows up in disguise, easily tricks Snow White into eating the poison apple and... yada, yada, yada, blah, blah, blah, ...you know the rest.
The sets, costumes, cinematography and special effects all make for a visually impressive movie-going experience. But Snow White and the Huntsman never rises above solid mediocrity. It certainly isn't good enough to answer yes to the question, “Did we really need yet another version of Snow White?” Give me the classic Walt Disney cartoon over this movie any day.
Charlize Theron in Snow White and the Huntsman.
Somewhere between this movie and Mirror, Mirror—2012's other Snow White adaptation—there lies a good way of retelling this story. While that earlier Julia Roberts vehicle went too far in the campy, comedy direction, this one takes itself way too seriously. It has a glum, plodding and lifeless feel to it.
As Patrick said, it starts strong. For the first 15 or 20 minutes, while the story is set up and Charlize Theron is the star, it's fairly exciting and interesting. Once Snow White escapes into the dark forest, the pace of the film slows too a crawl. Visually, the movie is a treat and when there is action, it's handled well. There's just not enough of it.
I could not agree more about Kristen Stewart. She's mildly attractive, but her range is almost nil. She can do serious and sad, but that's about it. In no way is she equal, let alone superior, to Charlize Theron in terms of beauty. Theron steals the movie from her in every scene she appears in, which unfortunately isn't enough.
The real problem is the script. Everyone speaks in this very stiff, formal manner while they attempt to do various English accents with uneven results. It's almost completely devoid of humor, which does little to speed up the pace.
There's also several plot holes. For instance, I find it hard to believe that Snow White would fail to discover the loose nail in her prison cell for so many years. And why does Finn reveal to the Huntsman that his sister was lying to him before he hands over Snow White?
Both Ravenna and her brother Finn suffer from the Bond villain, gloating complex. Finn has the opportunity to kill the Huntsman, but stops to gloat and so loses his chance. Likewise Ravenna, despite knowing that if she kills Snow White she will gain immortality, stops to gloat on two different occasions. It just adds to the general sloppy feel to the script.
This should have been a fun and exciting, darkened version of a fairy tale, but instead the filmmakers wanted to make an epic fantasy that took itself way too seriously. Unfortunately there's not enough story here for an epic and it just ends up feeling padded.
Based on the previews I had high hopes for Snow White and the Huntsman. It's not the worst movie of the year by far, but based on my expectations, it is one of the most disappointing.
Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman and the seven dwarfs should have been the focus of the story.
After reading my brothers reviews and having no affection for Kristen Stewart what-so-ever, I had only negative expectations for Snow White and the Huntsman. That likely helped as I found myself actually enjoying much of this film.
As my brothers wrote, this is a bloated version of the classic tale. We do not need to meet the huntsman when he is in a drunken fight. His first scene should have been in front of the queen where she talks up his history. The scene in fairyland was visually stunning but contradictory to the rest of the story. If fairies exist than other magic besides the wicked Queen exists. Why not enquire with them for help? What in the hell is that long antlered creature doing in front of a tree in that pond? Its acceptance of Snow White somehow means that she is the one to save the kingdom. If that is true then we do not need her rousing "get off your ass and lets fight" speech.
This version manages to entertain and nearly every scene has something to keep your attention. There is an adequate amount of action and a dark tone is maintained the entire time. However, it fails to generate any real excitement. The writers chose the wrong perspective to tell the story. We all know this tale, so why not tell it from the point of view of the huntsman? This way the masculine lead would have been played by an actual man and not Kristen Stewart. It also would have allowed for more action and encouraged a larger male ticket buying audience.
As it is, the films highlight is, again agreeing with my fellow buffs, Charlize Theron. She is the only one playing it right. We learn bits and pieces of her past. The most telling line was when she has an elderly man and his grown son kneeling before her. She tells the younger man, with a tinge of lust in her voice, that at one time his was a face that could steal her heart. Then her tone becomes bitter and angry as she adds, "and then break it."
The worst part of the story is the complete lack of resolution to the love triangle. As Patrick noted there are two suitors and at one point we are told bluntly which is her true love. Yet, at the end of the film she stands alone with both men looking fondly at her, each hoping they are the one. This story does not warrant any type of sequel so why not state who she ends up ruling beside? Stewart has no chemistry with either actor so it really did not matter to me who it was. I just wanted a definitive ending.
Thus far, my favorite telling of Snow White is the German made 7 Zwerge (7 Dwarfs) made in 2004. It takes a ridiculous story to begin with and ran it all the way to a sequel. This version takes the same ridiculous story and fills it with unnecessary visuals and pointless side plots. As Patrick wrote, there is not enough of a story to warrant this Peter Jackson type interpretation.
Photos © Copyright Universal Pictures (2012)