Sunday, July 1, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman

So the Huntsman.  Mmmm, yummy.

Oh, I'm sorry.  I meant Snow White and the Huntsman.  (But I'll be honest--The Hunstman is the highlight of this movie for me.)

Okay.  So.  Snow White is a little girl, with a father who adores her, and a sweet and loving but sickly mother.  A terrible winter comes to pass, and Mother dies.  And then Father, who is sad and in mourning, gets drawn away from the castle to fight a mysterious army that has appeared.  His soldiers fight the bizarre army (great visuals -- as they break apart you see them turn into mirror shards) and "rescue" the beautiful captive, Ravenna.

Well she doesn't take long to turn on him, poisoning and killing him on their wedding night.  So the castle and kingdom are won by treachery.  Then for some reason she locks Snow White in a tower for 8 years.

We tune back into the action and meet a dirty but just matured Snow White, playing with dolls in the fireplace.

For those of you who dislike Kristen Stewart on principal, I'm not going to try to defend her acting in this movie.  There is honestly a lot of mouth-breathing that I could have lived without.  However, if you are a Kristen Stewart fan, you'll like her in this movie.  I think I fall somewhere in the middle, and I thought she did all right with the accent.  She plays the part pretty subtly, and I'm not sure how well that fits this kind of movie, which I tend to think of as more along the lines of Labyrinth than a purely dramatic piece.

My favorite part of the movie is probably the Enchanted Forest, as its own entity.  I think the lead up to it falls a bit short -- there is some suggestion of magic, like the apple tree that blooms and bears fruit at the same time -- but it's all very subtle, background world-building stuff until BAM "This is the forest where the fairies live!"

I found it a bit abrupt.

But don't get me wrong.  The forest itself is gorgeous.  And if you can shrug and say "Okay, we're in THAT kind of movie now," it works out okay.

It is a much looser interpretation of Snow White than I was expecting.  There is a "prince" character to play along Snow White (the Duke's son) and unfortunately that seems to mostly be in order to give the movie some hint of a love triangle.  (Blah, I've had enough of those.)

The movie succeeds at some of the world-building, giving some great backstory on some of the characters.  And then there are other places where I wanted more -- What has the Duke's son been doing all this time?  How did Snow White stay sane, locked up from the time she was a little girl?  WHY did the evil queen just stick her in a tower in the first place?  (If there had been any indication of Snow White and Ravenna talking during that time period, I think it would have worked.  As it is, it appeared that Ravenna stuck her up there and forgot about her.)

The ending fell totally flat.  And by ending I mean literally the last scene.  I thought about it afterwards and decided it was because they didn't bookend the narration -- Chris Hemsworth has a voiceover, setting up the story at the beginning, and at the end there's just all this staring and no narration.  The last scene was just a big ....

Overall I liked the movie much more than I disliked it.  The use of magpies was brilliant (as they are also white as snow and black as ebony).  Charlize Theron does a stunning job of being insane but strangely sympathetic (as you get glimpses of her backstory and where she came from).  Chris Hemsworth plays a fascinating character, with much more motivation than I was expecting -- he's far from a stock romantic-interest character.  I liked the secondary characters quite a lot, from the village women who scarred their faces so they wouldn't be taken from Ravenna (although that hardly made them ugly as they claimed) to the dwarves and the stories they told.

The film is visually beautiful, from the forest critters to Charlize's wardrobe.  It's certainly worth SEEING.  And I did enjoy the interpretation of the story, although I have heard that there's some confusion about how the whole kissing thing works (but not from fairy tale fans).  I think it's worth watching even if you're not a big Kristen Stewart fan.  It's a creative twist on Snow White and pulls in some other mythology and folklore in both the visuals and the storytelling itself.


  1. I liked it too! And by Labyrinth, do you mean "Pan's Labyrinth" or the 1980's cult classic?

    And yeah, the introduction to the fairy forest was abrupt! I wish they had done more with the white hart. I sensed he was very important (the dwaves: "he's giving her his blessing; this has never happened before!"), but he came out of nowhere and was immediately shot at with an arrow.

    1. I thought it was a lot closer to Labyrinth than Pan's Labyrinth, in spite of Theron's scariness -- it was more fantasy adventure with a dash of campiness than the unsettling darkness of Pan's Labyrinth.