16 June 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman

**This review contains SPOILERS. Read at your own risk.**

Who doesn't love a good fairytale? Better yet, who doesn't love a good fairytale that's been turned on its head and made into a 90 minute film with three dimensional characters, interesting subplots, and gorgeous visuals?

That's exactly what you get for the first half of Snow White and the Huntsman. We're given Snow White's backstory and the tale of how her father came to marry Ravena, Charlize Theron's bitterly twisted and youth-obsessed Evil Queen. We feel the odd incestual vibe of a brother and sister eternally connected through pain and dark magic and feel the Brother's creepiness even more when he slides his hand up Snow White's dress.  We learn the Huntsman is a young widower trying to drown his sorrows in alcohol and is careless about his life. And what do we learn about Snow White? She's a nice girl trapped in a tower.

Sadly, Snow White is the least dimensional or interesting character of the entire film. While I want to blame this entirely on the one-note acting wonder that is Kristen Stewart, I'm inclined to place a bit of fault on the writing as well, especially since the second half of the movie felt like an altogether different film. It's as if the original screenwriter paused the story right when the Huntsman and Snow run into the Dwarves on their way to the Duke's castle and another writer who was told by "Hollywood" to make the ending BIGGER took over.

After that, everything happens so quickly that it's rushed and careless. Suddenly, the dwarf Gus-- who represents Dopey from the Disney version-- is killed, they run into Snow's childhood boy toy, Ravena shows up and gives her a poisoned apple, Snow's alive again, there's a battle at the castle, and Snow kills the Queen. The end. There's no motivation as to why the Queen chooses an apple other than its reminiscent of a scene at the beginning with young Snow & her "prince." How would the Queen have known about that? Is she psychic? Nothing in the film suggests that she is, but of course, no one bothered to detail her powers either.

This might be nit-picky but it made no sense how Snow was able to out run the guards, slide into a sewer drain, fall a hundred or so feet into rocky waters, manage to swim to the shore through rough waves, and ride bareback on a wild horse directly after escaping a cell she lived in for the last ten or twelve years until a minute before that all happened. Physically, she wouldn't have the endurance. Plus, she gets ONE thirty second combat lesson from the Huntsman and suddenly she's a warrior princess leading men into battle?! Don't even get me started on her motivational speech to the men-- it's worth watching just for that train wreck of a monologue. Oh, and to see Snow holding a tree branch as she's inaugurated to Queen... seriously.

The biggest frustration is the irresolution of one MAJOR plot: the potential romance between Snow White and the Huntsman. I mean, it's the frickin' title of the movie!!!

However, the film isn't all bad. Like I said, the first half is great: engaging, visual, exciting, emotional-- I was hooked. Which is why the second half was such a disappointment. I love the dwarves (with a cast of amazing actors like Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, Eddie Marsan, and Toby Jones who can blame me?) and would've loved more time with them. SW&TH is worth watching for Charlize Theron and Sam Spruell (the Evil Queen and her brother Finn) alone.  It wouldn't surprise me if producers pushed for more focus on Ravena during production since she's the most interesting and sexiest female in the film.

And ladies, can I get "hell yeah!" for the casting of Chris Hemsworth and Sam Claflin?! Hell yeah!

I like the adaptation of this classic fairytale, to give it a "what would that look like outside of a cartoon" vision. The interpretation was great, the execution was subpar. Overall, if you love epic fantasies you'll probably enjoy Snow White and the Huntsman, but if not, save your pennies for June 22nd's Brave, pop some popcorn at home, and rent the film when its out on DVD.

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