Thursday, June 7, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman

By Sati. Thursday, June 7, 2012 , , , , , , , , ,
57/100 (127 min, 2012)
Plot: In a twist to the fairy tale, the Huntsman ordered to take Snow White into the woods to be killed winds up becoming her protector and mentor in a quest to vanquish the Evil Queen.
Director: Rupert Sanders
Writers: Evan Daugherty (screenplay), John Lee Hancock (screenplay)
Stars: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron

Not the fairest of them all

Snow White and the Huntsman was really shaping out to be a good movie - all the trailers, TV spots and pictures promised darker, more exciting and mature take on the famous classic fairytale. Unfortunately, the film falls flat because of the very poor script and film's unnecessary prolonged run time. Even when some elements do work here, because there are so many story arcs the film frequently abandons its greatest achievements and replaces them with boring sequences that at times make the film quite a snoozefest.

After the loss of her mother, Snow White is living alone with her father, the King in the castle and spends a lot of time playing with her friend - William. Soon the land is attacked by the mysterious, magical army. When the King defeats them he finds a prisoner - beautiful woman named Ravenna and instantly falls prey to her charm. Ravenna murders him during wedding night, takes over the kingdom and imprisons Snow White.
Years later when Snow White is a young woman the Evil Queen decides to consume her heart after consulting with her magical mirror, so that she would never again suck the youth out of the beautiful women, which brings her desired, but short-lived effect. Snow White manages to escape, to Queen's fury. Ravenna sends the Huntsman after her, to capture her and bring Snow White to the castle. However upon meeting Snow White the Huntsman switches sides and they both travel through dangerous and magical land.

The film's biggest asset is the amazing visual side - from the beautiful landscapes through the gorgeous and imaginative sequences like the one in the Magic Forest to the impressive battle sequences - the film really catches the eye. There are also many details from the classic story. slightly changed to great effect - the mirror takes shape of a man in gold cloak and hood and the movie uses curious technique which frequently shows Ravenna talking to it, only to cut to the different point of view of character watching her and seeing her talking to regular mirror, as if she was delusional.
And that's not what she is - Ravenna knows that her strength is her beauty, something she uses to seduce men and in effect gain power. Charlize Theron's performance could truly be something mesmerizing here if only she was given more screen time. The film is at its best in its first moments, when we see Ravenna seducing, manipulating and slaughtering her way to the throne, unfortunately once her quest to find Snow White starts we only see her briefly every 15 minutes or so, usually looking sad or convulsing in agony in very brief scenes.

It is truly a waste because Theron really managed to create fascinating character here - completely horrified by the perspective of getting old and dying. The film's best moment is when we see Ravenna calling out to the Mirror for the first time - you can see Ravenna's panic and fear, dreading that she will not be proclaimed the most beautiful woman in the world. Theron really knows how to create chilling villain - she can be eerily calm and abruptly violent and falling into blind fury the next moment. Much like Elizabeth Bathory, sacrificing young and beautiful girls in order to stay young forever it is truly a shame Ravenna is not the protagonist here.
The most impressive work, though is delivered by Chris Hemsworth who plays the Huntsman. His character unlike evil Ravenna and sweet and pure Snow White never comes close to being a caricature. He is the most human of all the characters here - suffering from loss, trying to escape from his sadness and finally showing true courage and devotion, despite having flaws. Hensworth delivers yet another role of charismatic strong guy this year, I just hope he won't get typecast, as he also has some great comedy potential and I suspect with charisma like that he would do well in drama too.

And then there is Snow White, played by Kristen Stewart, young actress who is receiving so much of unjustified hatred. She is doing quite well her, capturing Snow White's kindness and courage, but she is the weakest link in the cast - not so much because of the way she plays the part, but because of the part itself. Between sweet Snow White, complicated Huntsman and mischievous Ravenna, the character of Snow White pretty much always comes off bland. As for the obvious that Theron is much more beautiful than Stewart - in the end it's not really about beauty, it's about youth.
Dwarfs, played by excellent group of actors unfortunately feel unnecessary. They deliver some laughs, some cute moments and one quite bold move on script writer's part, but that's it. Also the scenes with them feel the most prolonged of all in the movie, on par with all the shots of Snow White, Huntsman and the Dwarfs walking around the majestic mountains and the gorgeous landscape which really brought "Lord of the Rings" to mind, but in the movie with so little substance it's not a good thing.

With every movie directed at youth nowadays there needs to be a love triangle, and we have one here - William comes back all grown up, wanting to protect Snow White. He is played by Sam Claflin, the very same who played virtuous priest in recent Pirates of the Caribbean instalment and he is just as bland here. Whenever he is on screen the movie falls into bottomless pit of cliches and familiar maneuvers, though the iconic kiss that wakes Snow White from death is quite a surprise here and also happens after moving sequence which showcases one actor's ability in particular. We also have a sidekick to Ravenna, her brother Finn, played by Sam Spruell who manages to create quite the creepy performance, without falling into grotesque or ridiculousness.
As with most of expensive movies nowadays Snow White and the Huntsman reaches the worst part in its final moments, featuring the epic battle scene and the most cringe worthy acting from Stewart and the very low point for Theron's performance. Then the ending happens, which I feel need to be praised for being so subtle and really in the tone of classic fairy tales. Though, this is one of the problems - the director, as well as he is doing creating separate sequences - doesn't really seem to know what exactly is he trying to achieve with this movie.

Fortunately, there is plenty to marvel at here - visual effects, which highlight the origin of Ravenna's name as she transforms herself into hundreds of ravens, all the creatures in the Dark Forrest and the Sanctuary, the mirror itself and the extremely impressive mixture of make up and CGI in many scenes really make you see where all the money spent on this movie went. The film is also greatly aided by James Newton Howard's score - which is not his best work, but works very well in the film and has several memorable moments.
I also have to mention beautiful costumes, especially the ones worn by Ravenna.- all of her costumes are very impressive, being the mixture of the silky fabric that practically sticks to her body and rich additions, like the gorgeous earrings, crowns and necklaces. I'm sure all of you know that Dior commercial with Theron - she looks just as luminous here only as if that commercial was filtered through all kinds of evil and perverted things. Also, there is a moment in the movie where Ravenna changes back into human from the ravens - the dress she wears seems to be attached to her, her own body, the black feathers, all evolving into her clothes. Fascinating work by the famous Coleen Atwood.

Snow White and the Huntsman would be very enjoyable even with all its prolonged sequences that are simply unnecessary if it wasn't for gigantic plot holes that are everywhere. We know the extent of Ravenna's power shortly before Snow White dies from biting the apple - question is why didn't she tricked her when Snow White was imprisoned? Just do the thing, rip the heart and it's done.
While reading about the film I found out that several different actors were considered for the three leads in the movie. Just imagine Winona Ryder as Evil Queen, Viggo Mortensen as the Huntsman and Saoirse Ronan as Snow White. The actual cast is doing great job, but I can help by wonder how great would the movie be with slightly different cast. Also the film has very dark moments - the whole sequence in the Dark Forest, Evil Queen's actions, the innuendos when it comes to her relationship with her brother and Snow White - only to have all lovey dovey cliches shown next.

If there is one thing Snow White and the Huntsman proves is that the film based on fairy tale works best when it focuses on the evil antagonist. Had the film was centered on Ravenna it would be so much better. I can only hope that upcoming Maleficient, the retelling of Sleeping Beauty will be much better. It will show the events from the evil chracter's point of view, played by Angelina Jolie which I'm sure will be great in the part.

29 comments:

  1. I didn't like her performance/character but if Kristen Stewart needs some cheering-up, its that she isn't actually the weak link in the story. Its that William character. Totally unnecessary! If the purpose was to create conflict/tension via the love triangle, that failed miserably too.

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    1. Yeah it totally lacked tension - the choice she will make seemed pretty obvious from the beginning.

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  2. Great review, I love reading your posts, they are always very well written, but never too pretentious, like a critic. I heard Snow White was not that good, and I almost saw it, but when I got there, the tickets were sold out, so I saw Moonrise Kingdom instead, which I think was a much better choice! But I will see this, too, eventually! Thanks!

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    1. Thank you so much Diana, that's so sweet! I didn't see MK yet but I'm sure it is much better than sWATH.

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  3. Definitely agree and disagree in parts.

    Charlize Theron was definitely fantastic as Ravenna. The has such presence when onscreen and she made the character of the "typical" evil queen so much more multi faceted and really interesting to watch.

    Chris Hemsworth is great. I thought I was just being bias towards him but it's great to hear someone else sing his praises. I adored the flawed character that was The Huntsman. Like you said, human and relatable.

    Kristen Stewart... well I just can't stand her. That's a bit strong. Let me back that up. I just don't think she's got as much as a talent for acting as the masses seem to think. She barely breaks out into an emotion throughout this whole film and I never once felt for Snow White or her plight. Just for those around her.

    I thought Sam Claflin was playing the same character he was in POTC! He didn't even really need to be in the film!

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    1. Theron was truly impressive it's a shame once the movie focuses on Snow White we saw so little of her.

      Huntsman was definetly the highlight and someone the audiance could relate too, the movie would lose so much more without him.

      I think Kristen is actually despised by the masses, people really should check some small indie movies she starred in, she is talented, unfortunetly her recent roles in big productions don't give her opportunity to show it.

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  4. i agree with most of what you said, i think the script was pretty poor, but charlize theron and chis hemsworth were really impressive. i found that kristen stewart played the exact same character as she did in twilight though, she just looks bored a lot of the time!
    but an enjoyable film nonetheless, all be a bit too long!

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    1. Definetly too long, they should have shortened the second part or get rid of the dwarfs who were underused anyways.

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  5. i agree that is far too log and i wish ravenna was the protagonist as well, only because stewart was so horrid in the role.

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    1. Ravenna would probably bring this movie to the level of 8/9 points from me had she been the key player. Would love to see her conquer all of those kingdoms.

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  6. I found the film good, but not great. And i found Claflin fine, and i think they had to tie the Prince into the story somehow. And the movie seemed to downplay the whole romance thing(it didn't seem like she choose anyone in the end). Plus i'm sure if the romantic tension between Snow White and the Hnstmen was on purpose or some accidental chemistry between Hemsworth and Stewart.

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    1. I think the scene with the kiss that revived her was shown to us as the equivalent of her choice, I did like the subtle ending to the movie with the delicate smile between them.

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  7. Good review Sati. 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.

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    1. Yeah, it was dragging a little, especially in the second part of the film. But it was indeed darker than recent movie fairy tales.

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  8. Great review, Sati. I actually agree with Asrap, Stewart wasn't the weakest link. It was William. Agree with you on how K-stew made some scenes bland. And the movie did felt weak in the ending scene, not just because of K-stew. I guess it was about youth in the end.

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    1. YEah, I think he was there only to fit into love triangle trend.

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  9. I was bored by this as you know matey. I agree that some of the FX were stunning, but then there was that awful face morph.... gosh that was bad

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    1. Face morph wasn't the best but it was sure creepy! I hope nobody brings their kids to see this one.

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  10. I'm waiting for this on rental now. The only thing that was really drawing me to it were Theron and some of the visuals but that is not enough for a cinema visit! Great review as always!

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    1. Thank you! Rental is probably a good choice, sitting in the dark cinema, watching this, nearly put me into a coma :)

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  11. I'll see this when it's on TV. I was expecting something good but alas, another summer let down.

    I don't understand the hate for Kristen Stewart as I think she's a good actress. I think the problem is that lately, she's gotten into playing roles that don't suit her strengths and she's gotten comfortable with the whole Bella thing.

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    1. So glad there is someone who doesn't dislike her as most do! She is good and she did some wonderful movies. She should return to them, little indie films, hopefully she will get praise for On the Road.

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  12. When I watched the trailer for the first time, I thought that it's definitely not my thing to see in theaters. But then I saw some gorgeous pictures at your blog, and that's how my doubts were born. Later, when the film finally came out, people started to praise its visual beauty. That's when I thought I might catch it in theaters... Why to wait? Well, now your review is the last drop. I will see it!

    Even though it's not great, if it's beautiful visually, it's better to see it on the big screen. I mean if I wait for the DVD, I won't experience it properly and I do like lavish setting and costumes alike the ones here. That's why I love big screens even more.

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    1. The film does look beautiful but I should probably warn you that a lot of shots from trailers and from this review even are not in the movie. it is insanely annoying for me - all those great moments you get used to seeing in trailers are not there. The film is still very pretty, especially the sequence that opens the movie but I have a feeling it could be even more beautiful.

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  13. If it were not for your initial rating I would have thought you liked the film much more than you did. Even with the 57 out of 100 I believe you still liked it more than I did. I found Theron's performance to be way over the top and I actually broke out laughing at her one time. She seemed to be substituting volume for acting.

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    1. I only didn't like her performance when Snow white marched wearing armor and they fought. Embarassing moment for both of them.

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  14. Can I pretend that Charlize Theron's character is really the protagonist in this film? She was far and away the reason to see the movie.

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    1. Absolutely. When I'll have DVD I will fast forward through the thing to see her scenes.

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  15. Agree. Crap film. Bored me to tears.

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