Reviews: Snow White And The Huntsman
Prince Caspian and the 13 Warriors
Snow White & the Huntsman was not the type of film I expected. It seemed like it would be a Twilight cash grab crossed with the Darker and Edgier fairytales craze. Instead, if it's not quite good, it does manage to be unique in the day of the rampant spectacle blockbuster. It's actually a better adaptation of Prince Caspian and the Narnia books in general than the actual Prince Caspian film. The middle section of the film has this huge 'The world is reawakening' feel that is easily the strongest section. After effectively establishing the dark and corrupted world, where even the ground is your enemy, Snow White comes along and flowers begin to grow amongst the branches, birds follow her and trolls bow. The people around her get caught up more and more in her pleasure and delight of the world around her. The camera work is absolutely beautiful and the feel begins to affect you and catch you up with it. I'd be very surprised if Prince Caspian wasn't a conscious influence at some point too, because scenes seem to be lifted almost whole-hearted from it's pages. When Snow White wakes up at night, surrounded by surly dwarves who've lost their faith, and then follows the tree spirits into a glade where the world is fully reawakened to meet the majestic magical creature at the centre of everything... The other inspiration is from a certain period of fantasy films, between the gratification of Conan and the epicness of Lord of the Rings, where fantasy films were not necessarily great but they were earnest. There are lots of long quiet shots of lonely landscapes, hushed conversations around campfires, subdued talks with elders of small villages. Willow or The 13th Warrior It's not in your face, and I can understand it feeling a little boring, but it's a pleasant surprise to see a film like this made in 2012. There is a certain grace about the way it doesn't demand attention and excitement. Sadly there's a completely nonsensical love triangle which is invalidated by the very title of the film, and whilst the first and second acts end up complementing each other well, we're lacking the transition between 'Summer is coming' and the big battle with Snow White as a warrior. Everything doesn't quite resolve properly and the Huntsman never really comes to be his own character.
Would be far better with a different lead actress
This movie isn't Academy Award-winning material, but it was pretty solid. The visuals were stellar; the plot, while it could use some tighter writing/a couple of cliches dropped, made sense and was clear; and the actors, beside some over-acting by Charlize Theron, did a good job. ...except for Kristen Stewart. Now before I continue, this is the first thing I've ever since Kristen in, so I don't have any preconceived notions of her acting from the notorious Twilight. But yet she has upheld her reputation of emotionless acting. It's hard to believe Snow White could inspire the masses when Kristen doesn't even change expressions even when yelling out her inspiration speech. The characters go on and on about how the Princess is the Chosen One and gets a blessing from a forest god/spirit (whatever that deer was), with that praise of the character I expect a very emotive, badass character, but Kristen does not hold up to that expectation despite being a literal Lady of War. I honestly was rooting for the Evil Queen because I gave more of a shit about her than the lead and couldn't buy Kristen's character being "Fairest of Them All" over Charlize freaking Theron (even considering the inner beauty angle; a Snow White that was "Fairest of Them All" because of herself rather than just physical beauty would be incredibly interesting and awesome to see, but this movie failed to pull it off). I'm sorry this review is mostly complaining about Kristen, as beside her the movie was pretty good, but the film would have been much better with a better actress in the lead. It was clear she was cast to bring in the Twilight crowd, and man did this movie suffer from it.
Good ideas ruined by poor execution
This film had some really good ideas. It creates a world that's fantastical, yet grounded in reality. The presence of the dwarves is justified within the story, with background and so forth. It wants to explore the Queen as a character. It wants to explore the "Prince" as a character, which is why he's the Huntsman now. But it's all just poorly executed. The worldcraft is the best element of the film, with striking visuals (except for the mirror, which I thought was way overdone) and elements of dark magic that dip into the realm of horror. Oddly, there are random Miyazaki elements just thrown in for seemingly no purpose. Though if you're going to steal, there are worse places to steal from. The film dies in three places. The Queen's character and motivation is explored, but is never really followed through. For the first 30 minutes, she's the only real character. After that, she crops up here and there to do plot-relevant things, but she's basically gone from the movie. We get one random flashback of how she got her powers, and that's it. The film really felt like she was a Villain Protagonist or something at first, then it seemed to forget she existed. Her eventual death, as a consequence, didn't really have the build-up it needed. Indeed, the plot resolution as a whole really felt like the writers decided "hey, time to wrap this up now." The second problem is the Huntsman, who replaces the Prince as the love interest. His character motivation is... absolutely standard. Chris Hemsworth delivers a solid performance, but we've seen the this kind of character before and it's just not very interesting. But really, what buries this movie in a shallow grave is Kristen Stewert's complete inability to emote with her face. Kristen maintains that vacant, "Dur" expression for almost the entire movie. In the second act, so many scenes rely on her expressing fear, wonderment, defiance, or various other emotions. And it never works. She even gives an "inspirational" speech at the end which is so poorly written and delivered that it murders your suspension of disbelief. And the fight scene at the end is best left forgotten. The filmmakers had good ideas, but completely failed to make them pay off.
The only mouth open in the entire theater was Kristen Stewart's
If you want to go see this movie, eh...don't. It is very artsy, and I respect that, but it's so artsy that the film loses its edge and its story. It's like if Alfonso Cuaron went nuts. There are tons of things that are never explained. The milk bath scene? What the HELL was that?! The stag turning into birds?! Finn's hand melting? Was that a hallucination? His hand appears fine later on, so now we have inconsistencies! The scene where the queen turned into crows was a Big Lipped Alligator Moment. Nobody mentioned it afterwards! And don't get me started on Kristen Stewart's underacting. That "motivational speech" near the end literally made me facepalm and lean to the side. Also, you could count the moments where she had her mouth closed on one hand! The queen was good, except for those times she overacted. The theater that I was in laughed during the scenes in which she overacted. I'm not going to spoil anything, but I will tell you this movie was a huge disappointment. However if I did have to bring up one good thing about this movie it would have to be the score. The opening music is great, and I also liked the set design and the visuals, even though the visuals were never explained. If you like a good plot, good casting, good acting, and things being explained to you, stay away. Otherwise, this movie is for you.
I went into the theater hoping it will be an okay movie, considering the plot line is actually quite interesting. It ended up in a laughing fest with my friends. Kristen Stewart was, once again, expressionless for a HUGE part of the movie, and there are so many places that are just so clichéd it's funny. One of the better things, though, would be the visuals. Treat it as a picture that no one can understand, or just really strange... Stuff, and you'll be fine. But, if you are planning to watch it, my advice is: Don't. It's quite a bad movie, with Mary Sues, Necrophilias and so, so much cheesy dialogue. Again, a hilarious movie, which really isn't supposed to be, and beautiful artsy visuals. That's probably the ONLY good thing about the movie. A little bit of Love Triangle and Wrong Guy First. Deconstructing it and pointing out the epically FAIL parts was a lot of fun.
Not bad, but not great
I went into this movie thinking it would be a game of "Spot the Plot Holes." It actually wasn't, which was kind of strange... There were a ton of scenes that seemed lifted from Miyazaki films (The Forest Spirit is directly from Princess Mononoke, and when Ravenna reforms after giving the apple to Snow White, her reconstituted human/bird form was kind of reminiscent of Howl's bird-like form in Howl's Moving Castle), but the story was pretty solid, plot hole-wise. The story was simple and kind of required a working knowledge of fairy tale logic, but other than that, it was fairly coherent. The only really big problem I had with the whole movie was that they made the duke's son an archer, but all his fight scenes are with enemies that are up close. Bows are not melee weapons. Archers are basically the medieval version of snipers. It didn't really make sense for William to fight with a bow and arrow if all the battles he was engaged in meant he was on the front line. All I can figure is that they were trying to hint at the fact that William was less manly than the huntsman via choice of weapon (See trope: "Guys Smash, Girls Shoot" for further evidence). The bottom line: it was okay (just okay), but I kind of just ended up wanting to watch Willow when I got home. Chris Hemsworth is also a total fox, if you're into that kind of thing, but his attitude was way reminiscent of Madmartigan, and for some reason I couldn't shake the feeling that the huntsman's character should have been older. The movie wasn't really dark enough, either. I was expecting Pan's Labyrinth levels of darkness, but it just didn't ever quite go there. That left me wondering who this movie was for. It clearly wasn't for children, but it wasn't quite for adults, either. Overall, the movie looks like a hodge-podge of other movies and doesn't really have much of an identity of its own except for Ravenna's evil forces. And why did I walk out of that theater knowing every single character's name (even an off-screen character who is dead by the time we're introduced to adult Snow White), but I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE HUNTSMAN'S NAME IS? (Seriously, the guy is credited as "The Hunstman" in the credits. WTF...)