Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman

Get out your apples and magic birds, we're reviewing Snow White and the Huntsman!

When I first heard about Snow White and the Huntsmen, it sounded terrible. Then Mirror Mirror came out and it suddenly didn't sound so awful.  With more and more trailers of the unique effects, I was getting my hopes up that it would actually be good. Well, it turns out I got my hopes up a bit too much.

Evil queen Ravenna(Charlize Theron) has taken over the kingdom, killed the king, and banished Snow White(Kristen Stewart) to the tower. When the magic mirror reveals that Snow White is the only one that can kill the queen but is also the only way the queen can live forever, she plots to have Snow White killed. Snow White escapes into the dark forrest though, so Ravenna must call upon the Huntsman(Chris Hemsworth) to go into the woods and find her. But then he can't kill her for reasons and they become best friends. Also apparently Snow White is nature Jesus or something, and there's a prince but no one cares about him.

This movie is long. Really long.  It feels like three separate movies stapled together it's so long. And the end is just abrupt and long.  This is another movie that tries to reinvent a classic fairy tale into a new epic gritty action movie. And though it tries, I still think the best case of that is Hanna.

Snow White is named Snow White because a queen once went outside in the winter and went, "Huh, that snow is really white." And then she wishes Snow White into existence I guess. This beginning is just one of the many WTF things about Snow White and the Huntsman.  It will leave you scratching your head not just as to what's going on, but also, why?!  For instance, they need the Huntsmen to go into the dark forrest because everyone else is too scared and the queen has no power there. But when he inevitable turns good and joins Snow White, the bad guys go into the dark forrest after them anyway!  Also, Snow White has apparently been locked up in a tower for at least half her known life. How is she able to do even half the things she does in the movie, like running long distances, swimming, making speeches, riding a horse, walking more than five minutes without dying of exhaustion, or swinging a sword?

And of course this is Kristen Stewart we're talking about. One of the questions critics were asking about this movie was, "Can this be a good movie despite Kristen Stewart being in it?" because it's already assumed she's going to have a terrible performance.  I wish I could say she just needed a new place to shine instead of those horrible Twilight movies, but she's not good here either. I mean, she's not utterly terrible in most parts, and I think that's the best I compliment I can give. Then again, the times when she's not terrible are the times when she's not talking, so maybe she should just stick to that. She has one speech near the end that's supposed to rally the troops and is basically a "You have my sword!" version oft the speech in Lord of the Rings, and it's pretty awful.  And also, why can't this girl ever seem to close her mouth?!

Charlize Theron is the bat-shit insane queen Ravenna, and she does a pretty good job selling that.  She was a good choice for the over-the-top evil performance, but sometimes I think her character is just crazy for no reason.  In the beginning, two guards set up her "mirror" in her room, and then she whispers for them to get out. Then she screams at them to get out. Like, lady what is your problem? They probably didn't even hear you the first time.  I think Chris Hemsworth is the best acted in this. He plays his part well and I can understand his motivation. Also, he seems to have a more scottish accent here, so that's new. I wonder how many accents he can do?

You wouldn't know it, but it has a surprisingly good cast of dwarves, including Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Toby Jones, and Nick Frost!  I can understand why they'd want to promote the three big stars of this, but why not even mention these guys?  I rather liked them.  I thought it was kind of weird how they just show up with no mention of there being dwarves in this universe before(are there also elves here too?), but I enjoyed their antics.

The soundtrack is pretty good. I wouldn't say it's great, there are a few great parts, but it's not overall amazing.  It just fits really nicely.  And strangely, there are a lot of keltic and Lord of the Rings-esque tunes here.  Which, I wouldn't say they don't fit, but they do make you think they're ripping off The Hobbit trailer.

The absolute best part of this movie is the visual design. From the numerous creatures, monsters and cgi effects, to the costumes and make-up, to the sets and atmosphere, it's great eyeball candy.  I'm sure it will be nominated for some Special Effects Award and it deserves one of those "Art of" books.  All of Ravenna's dresses are really interesting, and I'm sure some fashion designers out there will appreciate them. It's incredible to see Ravenna turn into a flock of ravens(Ravenna? Ravens? Get it?!), or see that cool mirror dude slick out.  Although some design choices aren't really explained and just thrown in there because, hey why not.  For instance, what the hell is that milky substance Ravenna is bathing in? Of course part of what's so great about the visual design is that it's taken from other better movies like Lord of the Rings and Princess Mononoke.  And really, I just want a Princess Mononoke movie.  I didn't see this in 3D, but I'd be interested in seeing how well those visuals look in 3D.

But once you get past the visuals and into the story, it all falls apart. Things don't add up and are just outright weird. You wouldn't know it from the trailers, but there is a Prince in here, who happens to be a badass archer. And it looks like there's supposed to be a crazy love triangle but it's never really explained or resolved, the movie just ends!  Major events are solved with magic and it's never explained as to why or how. There are some good ideas here, like exploring how the queen is ruling with literal beauty, how she's no good to anyone old, and how everyone loves a pretty young girl because she's pretty and young, but they don't really go anywhere.  The story is pretty cliched and you can tell what will happen in the end.  They had an excuse to tell a compelling story that was completely new and inventive, but instead they told the same old tale with a shiny new polish. How disappointing.

THE GOOD: GREAT visual style, including CGI, costumes, make up, a few good ideas, Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth are good, Dwarves are fun, soundtrack is ok.

THE BAD: Kristen Stewart is Kristen Stewart, story is crazy, long, things don't make sense, some of the visuals don't make sense, ending is weird, powers aren't explained well, don't do anything with the love triangle.

THE VERDICT: $$$ Eh.  It's not great. It has great visuals, and some of the action is nice, and some parts are entertaining, but really it's just meh.  It might be worth seeing in theaters if you can slog through Kristen Stewart.

MOVIES LIKE IT: LOtR, Alice in Wonderland, Mirror mirror, Princess Mononoke, Joan of Ark

ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: In order to escape, magic birds perch on Snow White's cell window and show here a lose nail. That's great and all, but how long has she been looking out that window that she just now notices it's lose? Has she not been looking out her one window every day for years? What the hell birds, you couldn't get on that sooner, like before she's about to be murdered? And why the hell is she wearing the equivalent of skinny jeans underneath her dress?


  1. Good review Joshua. A lot darker and grittier than most fairy tales we see on the big screen, but it worked and gave this film a new edge to it that I think it needed. Story could have had more tension to it though.

  2. Hey Thanks! I just wish they had gone a bit further with it. Or explained stuff.