Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Movie Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

When I first heard about Snow White and the Hunstman, I had twin reactions. One was utter disappointment: "Damn. Looks like someone wrote the story I've been working on for two years." The other was excitement: "Snow White in armor? Charlize Theron as the Wicked Queen? Thor as a sweaty, hot ranger? Sign me up!"

I wanted to love this movie. I really did. Though it was a thoroughly entertaining two hours, there were just a few things that made it fall short of true love. On the up side, though it didn't exceed any of my expectations, it didn't really disappoint me.

When Snow White comes of age, she comes into the power that could destroy the powerful Queen Ravenna once and for all. Fleeing for her life into the Dark Forest, Snow White is reluctantly aided by the Huntsman, who is haunted by his own personal tragedy. Together, they make a perilous journey towards the one bastion of freedom left in the ravaged land, where Snow White must find the strength to face her stepmother--and her destiny--once and for all.

Visually stunning. My eyes were never bored, as each shot is lovingly composed for maximum pop. The special effects were  gorgeous, ranging from the grotesqueness of the Queen's darker magic to the ethereal beauty of the faerie realm. The costumes were impressive as well, and I'm sure there's already some ambitious seamstresses out there whipping up bird skull-adorned ball gowns for Comic Con this year.

Seriously, check out the details. I want this dress.

Ladies for the win. Though no one's going to be getting any Oscar nods for this, I was impressed by both Charlize Theron's portayal of the Wicked Queen AND Kristen Stewart's rendition of Snow White. Especially since she was severely limited by her dialog, Kristen did a surprisingly good job of portraying a range of thoughts purely with her expressions and body language. I admit, I have soft spot for her, mostly 'cause I'm rooting for her to break the "Bella" mold of her Twilight fame. This isn't too far away from that "sweetly bewildered" comfort zone, but she had some break-out moments.

As for Charlize, she was everything I wanted in a Wicked Queen. Cold and beautiful as sharpened gold, she practically oozed casual malice with every step. She also did a good job of making the Queen a bit sympathetic, even up until the end. She must have had fun with this role. 

Delivers what it promises. I went in expecting an action-packed, dark fantasy with lots of special effects, a dash of romance, and some slight "girl power" themes. I got exactly that. To be fair, maybe it's because they gave away most of the film in the preview, or because it's adapted pretty faithfully to a story I've known since I was three, but I rarely found myself surprised. Which, to be fair, could also be con, but seeing as I was already geared up for what they offered, I think it's a win.

Bob Hoskins was a nice surprise as the Dwarven seer. 

Weak writing. Really, for such a beautifully made film with such a broad range of talent, the script was sadly lacking. Snow White really doesn't say much, and there's some key moments of character development that were lost. You really don't get much of a sense of a personal growth arc for her -- or for any of the characters, really. The story stays firmly in the land of archetype, which is appropriate somewhat, considering it's based off a fairy tale, but I'd hoped to see some real life breathed into the avatars we'd all grown up with. 

Same old story. An extension of my previous gripe, but I felt it needed its own bullet point. I'd hoped for the story to challenge some of the themes of the classic Snow White tale, especially when the previews showed an armored Snow charging a fire-lit battlefield. In the end, though, it was still about who was the "fairest of them all." There's no real explanation of why Snow White is the "chosen one" except for "'cause she's pretty." You could cook up some theory about the "three drops of blood" magic that supposedly went into her birth, but it isn't clearly explained in the movie.

See? Fruit can be bad for you.

Worst. Siege. Ever. Okay, this is just my personal gripe, coming from playing tactics/strategy games and spending some time in a renaissance faire fighting guild, but that was seriously the sloppiest, worst-planned castle siege I've ever seen put on film. It's seriously cringe-worthy. 

Who needs formation or tactics?
So, that's my two cents. If you're a fan of fantasy, fairy tales, and sword-and-sorcery films, then check it out. I'd even recommend spending the clams to see it in the theater, as those special effects are worth it. It may not change your life, but it'll definitely entertain you on a Friday night.

On a more personal note... though Snow White and the Huntsman is similar in elements to the aforementioned story I'd been working on, it's still different enough. That comfort, in and of itself, was worth the price of admission...especially since I like my story better.

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