Snow White And The Huntsman (2012) Review (PG-13)
For the second time, this year I was surprised by a movie that I thought was going to be AT LEAST borderline chick-flickish. Turns out tha Snow White & The Huntsman was actually what it’s intended to be; a live action Disney-esque fairy tale. I liked that instaed of being a girl empowerment film, it actually just (for the most part) focused on the characters with little to no political agenda.
Most viewers will know this story even if it does have a slight bit of a contemporary worldview mixed in with the children’s fable. I was fully expecting this to be Snow White:Sword Wielding @$$Kicker… But there was very little of that. Watching the trailers you’ll think that the film’s star Kristen Stewart is attired in armor the entire film and taking on armies, but that isn’t the case, either. In fact, by the time Snow White does pick up a sword in the film, the writer(s) have developed a story where it’s a natural progression and necessary for the heroine to do so.
Without giving too much away, the film begins by setting up how bad times have come about in the kingdom. Everything’s just peachy until the Queen (played by a model turned actress with a great name: Liberty Ross) falls ill and dies, leaving behind her distraught husband… You know… The King (Noah Huntley) and their lovely young daughter, Snow White. There’s no time to grieve, though, because the dark forces of the land see this as a prime opportunity to make a move. Soon the King is riding into battle against an army of shadowy demonic soldiers made of some kind of black glass-like material. The King and his men momentarily defeat the army and discover that the army has a smoking hot prisoner, Ravenna (Charleze Theron). You’d think that her name would be tipping them off that she might not be all that she appears to be… Well, she is pretty smokin’ hot, but not quite so innocent…. But the King has eyes for her and forgets about his dead wife. They get married immediately and on their wedding night… Well, it’s a short honeymoon as Ravenna reveals her true intentions and stabs the King (in front of his daughter, no less). While this is happening the Dark Army reappears… Turns out Ravenna is their leader, as if there was ever any doubt, and she takes control of the kingdom.
Snow White is locked away in a tower and the surrounding country wilts and withers under the icy control of the evil queen. She is an evil queen of the Disney variety, being that she’s also a powerful sorceress and she’s got some serious issues, especially when it comes to men. She’s also extremely vain, so much so, that she has a magic beauty radar in the form of a golden mirror. Any time some young girl comes of age and proves to be too hot for Ravenna to compete with, Ravenna gets rid of the competition by literally sucking the life out of them, killing them… generally bad things to them until they’re out of the picture. When Snow White finally comes of age (now played by Kristen Stewart, the star of a certain crap young adult series), her name comes up on the list. Ravenna orders her weird brother to retrieve Snow from the tower, so that Ravenna can… I don’t know… eat her heart or something… Something Mike Tyson could appreciate… But, it would be a short movie if that happened and it would probably be called ‘Ravenna, The Evil Queen That Killed Snow White Played By The Girl From That Crap Young Adult Series’.
Snow White escapes and ends up in The Dark Forest, where Ravenna has no power… I’ll stop there, except to say that Ravenna ‘enlists the aid’ of ‘The Huntsman ‘ of the title in order to track Snow White down. He has his own reasons for performing the deed, even if he sort of has to… Or else.
Thor’s Chris Hemsworth is The Huntsman and I have to say that I liked him here more than I liked him in Thor. For one, this was written a little better than the Marvel film (especially in the dialogue department), but, especially since he wasn’t really reduced to a subordinate role as I had expected. He almost seems like a real actor here. In Thor, one gets the idea that he was hired becuase… He’s almost as big as Thor. He kind of looks like Thor. Kind of… He has blond hair. Sort of… He has an accent and Americans can’t tell the difference between a Norwegian accent (as Thor would probably have) and an Australian accent, can we?… And he can say his own name reasonably well, unlike that guy from the last Punisher film…. Anyway… Hemsworth is given enough to work with here, so as to display a little bit of a personality for his character.
The film is written with an ’empowerment’ message, but it’s done without any kind of overbearing feminist (man-hating message). Hemsworth’s Huntsman is even a bit of a mentor as well as being the ‘mirror’/love interest for Snow White. Her story is of a character who’s having a bit of a rough time, faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles and pursued by antagonistic forces, goes on a journey and comes to realize that she can accomplish things that she formerly thought were overwhelming.
Stewart, of course, comes into this with fans and baggage from that crap young adult series that she stars in. I am not a Kristen Stewart hater, though. I don’t pay attention too much to awards shows and celebrity gossip, so if she acts weird in interviews and such, I’m not one who cares. I do really hate those sparkly vampire films, though, having sat through one to be able to say that I have seen it and it was all that I thought it would be. In fact, it surpassed my expectations(?… is that the word?) and I nearly clawed my own eyeballs out of their sockets about three quarters through that TV pilot of a film. I’m sure a Twilight marathon, viewing them all in one night, probably is enough to kill a man, but I digress. In saying that, I don’t think Stewart is a ‘bad actress’. I have seen her in at least a couple of other films where I thought she was pretty good. One was the Cake Eaters, where she played a girl with an illness. I liked that one. She was also in the truly awful The Runaways, but depsite the quality of the film, Stewart was very good as Joan Jett. I had seen Jett in interviews and things of that nature (I wasn’t a fan or anything), but from what I saw, she did a great job of doing her ‘own thing’ while portaying a real life musician. She kind of did what Chris Pine did with the Kirk role in Star Trek, where he did enough of a nod to William Shatner to please old fans, but enough of his own thing to make it more than just a cheap impression. Stewart plays Snow White modestly, which was probably the best way to go.
I didn’t think this was Charlize Theron’s best work, but I also don’t think she’s bad here, either. She plays the villainess, but I think her character is probably the most predictable in the film. That’s not her fault and I still think she does a solid job. It might just be because I am so familiar with her, that it may have been better to have found someone that no one has seen before, so that the viewer will believe that the person onscreen is really up to no good, rather than a famous actress at the right age making her rounds in big budget summer films. Still liked her, though, and after sounding like I’m complaining about her, I have to say that I would have liked to have seen more of her onscreen… Oh, yes. Much more. That second shot of her in the film was worth the price of admission unto itself. She also spends a good bit of time in the film getting wet… Whatever that means. I actually saw this and Prometheus on the same day. Anytime I can watch not one, but two Theron films.. Well, that’s a pretty good day.
None of this is the best part of the film, though. I think the film goes to eleven when the eight dwarves show up… Yes, eight. At least there’s eight at the start. Most of the actors portraying the dwarves are pretty spectacular character actors on their own. Nick Frost, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Toby Jones, Ian McShane… It suddenly becomes like one of those really old films like ‘Around The World In 80 Days’ where it seems the top actors all make cameos in one film. And then there’s one of my personal favorites british actor Eddie Marsan playing two of the dwarves. It took me a few minutes to realize that when I was watching this. the only bad thing I could think of about the casting of all of these guys was that I wondered how come they couldn’t just cast little people in the roles? Seems more than a little discriminatory. And as great as these guys were they still are no ‘Time Bandits’. Randall, Fidget, Og, Strutter, Wally and Vermin would make mincemeat out of these guys.
The best aspect of Snow White and The Huntsmen (at least to me) is that it was just an extraordinarily beautiful film and not just because of the women (they even worked another model turned actress, Lily Cole, in there for a bit part). The landscapes are picturesque in the way that big screen film can be. The sets were authentic looking. A lot of the visuals looked like elaborately detailed paintings set in motion. The castles looked like real castles. the Dark Forest was brimming with movement. There was always a tree branch or snakes or something else that were moving around at the edges of the frame.The FX are much better than what one gets in typical summer blockbusters, but it did the trick.
There are some films where you’ll hear of a ridiculous number when it comes to the budget, but you’ll leave the theater wondering where all of the money went. Which producer pocketed half of it. That’s not the case here. I was actually shocked that it cost ONLY $180 million dollars. It seemed like it should cost twice that with the cats, the large number of FX, the locales, the horses and armies and armor and… Every dollar appears to be onscreen.
So, I really liked this, and I’m not even a big fan of the fantasy genre. It was contemporary, but maintained a lot of the traditional that I think people like about these kinds of stories. I think most people will probably know where the film will end up, but there are surorises along the way. there’s even a little bit of an open ending at the end, where you’re left to fill in your own blanks… Or maybe they’re just setting up for a sequel. i don’t know. But, it’s the second film I’ve seen recently, where I’m probably… No, I’m DEFINITELY not who the film is targeting, but I did enjoy it. It’s a big screen film that has a pretty good pace. There’s decent action and it’s not dumbed down (taking into account that it IS a fairy tale). Good film and for what it is, I’m giving it a 5 out of 5… whatevers… Is it as good as the 5 of 5 I gave Prometheus last week? No, but as I said, ‘Snow White And The Huntsman’ is exactly what it intends to be. Just one guy’s opinion, though. As I was leaving the theater, there was a burly woman with her burly dude, stomping down the steps next to me and her words were: “Wll, this sucked! We should have went and seen Battleship”. So, take it for what it’s worth….