Monday, 4 February 2013

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)

Snow White and the Huntsman is absolutely nothing like the classic Disney film and it doesn't even have that that much in common with the Brothers Grimm fairytale despite a few token elements. Instead Snow White and the Huntsman is clearly trying to be a Lord of the Rings-esque film; an epic fantasy movie with plenty of drama and adventure.

The Evil Queen in this film (Charlize Theron) is a bitter and evil witch called Ravenna, who feeds off the beauty and youth of other women in order to keep herself looking young and beautiful. After marrying Snow White's father, she murders him, claims the throne for herself, and has Snow White (Kristen Stewart) locked up in a tower for 10 years. However, the Queen's magic mirror then warns her that the innocent and pure Snow White has finally come of age and will be Ravenna's downfall. Ravenna then tries to have Snow White killed but she escapes from the tower and disappears into a dark, sinister and enchanted forest. Ravenna's magical powers are useless in this forest so she recruits the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to find Snow for her. The Huntsman is also a drunkard and a widower in this film. He spares Snow White - as he does in the fairytale - but he decides to go on the run with her as well. Along the way the pair of them also encounter the Dwarves, who are the last of their kind in this film due to persecution by Queen Ravenna. They also encounter a young man called William (Sam Claflin), who's the son of a Duke and Snow White's childhood sweetheart.

Again, Snow White and the Huntsman is very different to the Disney film. It has a very sombre, serious atmosphere and there's very little humour. This is even reflected in the colour scheme! The skies are always grey, there's lots of mud and dirt, and the characters - with the notable exception of the Queen - tend to wear greens and browns. Snow White and the Huntsman really is a film that is taking itself very seriously indeed, which wouldn't have bothered me at all if the film had been engaging and thrilling. Unfortunately it's not. Despite a brilliant-looking trailer, and the presence of Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth, this film is a huge let-down.

Snow White and the Huntsman
 is only two hours long but because of the pacing it feels much longer than that. The film really drags in the middle section with the main characters visiting places and meeting people that add barely anything to the story, like that village full of scarred women for example. That whole section could have easily been edited out! And Snow White's childhood sweetheart William was a completely pointless character. Why did they even feel the need to have a love triangle if they were trying to do something edgy and different with the fairytale? There are many, many plot holes in this film as well! Firstly, why did Ravenna lock Snow White up? Why didn't she just kill her when she was still a child? It really doesn't make sense! Even if it's a fairytale they should have still provided a valid, believable reason for the Queen keeping Snow White alive for all these years! What was the Queen gaining by keeping her alive? Did she feel sorry for her? And how can Ravenna's creepy brother still be alive in this film? It's established that Ravenna has been able to keep herself alive for all these years by feeding on the beauty and youth of other women, and at one point she mentions that she's lived 20 lifetimes. Yet her brother doesn't have any magical powers so how come he's still alive?! Why did Ravenna's brother kill the Huntsman's wife anyway? That was never really explained. Why didn't Ravenna just go in straight for the kill when she finally finds herself alone with Snow White whilst disguised as William? Why does she waste time by kissing her? Does she have a secret lesbian crush on Snow White that she wanted to fulfil?! Ah ha! So that's why Ravenna kept Snow White alive after all! And finally, wouldn't it have been better if Snow White had actually used her inner beauty and kindness to defeat the Queen instead of that limp final battle? Changing Snow White's character into a badass, warrior woman wasn't remotely convincing and it was inconsistent with what had gone on before. So the Huntsman gives Snow White a 10 second lesson on how to stab things and suddenly she's a kickass fighter?! I don't think so! They didn't even throw in a training montage!

Another big problem with the film is its leading actress. Yes, Kristen Stewart does look the part of Snow White. Many have pointed out that Charlize Theron is more attractive than Kristen Stewart - my brother for one - but in fairness the film does stress that Snow White has inner beauty. However, Stewart's acting is bad! Really bad!

Stewart showed some potential in Panic Room all those years ago but it seems like she's actually gotten worse with more experience! She was painfully wooden and awkward in Twilight and now she's painfully wooden and awkward in this! If you've read my review of 2004's Phantom of the Opera film then you might recall me saying that Emmy Rossum only uses four facial expressions in the entire film. Well, in this film Kristen Stewart only uses two! The only emotions that Stewart is able to express in this film are "Concerned" and "Amazed". That's it! Judging from how other characters responded to Snow White it's clear that the character is supposed to be an exceptionally innocent, pure, gentle, virtuous, kind-hearted, courageous young woman - the "fairest of them all". Animals seem to love her and one of the Dwarves even calls Snow White "life itself" at one point. But this never comes across at all! It really doesn't help matters that there's a love triangle in this film either. Once again Kristen Stewart is playing a girl that two men both fall head-over-heels in love with, despite that fact that she's given the audience no reason to suggest why that might be the case. Also, Stewart has no chemistry with Chris Hemsworth or Sam Claflin so there's no real romantic or sexual tension. This film really needed a strong actress for the role with a lot of charisma and a likeable screen presence - and Stewart just wasn't right for it. The scene where Stewart's Snow White makes a "rousing" speech to her troops had me cringing with embarrassment. There's another especially embarrassing scene in this film I can think of as well. In one scene the Huntsman hacks Snow White's dress because he seems to think it's getting in her way. Snow White stares blankly at him and then the Huntsman says "Don't flatter yourself". It's only then I realised that Snow White was supposed to be looking at him with chaste shock and embarrassment! It's obvious that the only reason why Stewart was cast as Snow White was because the film-makers wanted to cash in on her Twilight fanbase!

Then there's the supporting cast. Sam Claflin is also very wooden and flat so I'm extremely annoyed that he's been cast as Finnick Odair in the Hunger Games' sequel Catching Fire. Finnick is one of my favourite characters! Even Chris Hemsworth isn't that great in this film sadly. Hemsworth wasn't even the first choice to play the Huntsman either. He was only cast after Viggo Mortensen and Hugh Jackman both turned the role down. Now I love Chris Hemsworth and I really don't want to criticise him. He was brilliant as Kirk's dad in Star Trek despite only being on screen for about 5-10 minutes. He was also excellent in Thor and The Avengers Assemble - especially when he had to be funny - and he pulled off a good English accent. But in this film Hemsworth isn't at his best. He really struggles with his character's Scottish accent and he's saddled with an unnecessary backstory. The only time when he really shines is in the scene where the Huntsman thinks Snow White is dead. The Dwarves - despite being made up of a bunch of talented actors such as Toby Jones, Eddie Marsan, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone and, er, Nick Frost - are barely in this film. Their talents are wasted! They should have removed that unnecessary female village section and devoted more time to their characters! In fact the only actor in this film who genuinely gives a great performance is Charlize Theron as Ravenna. Yes, Theron shouts half her lines and is too over-the-top at times but she still manages to give the best performance in the whole film and is believably evil and menacing. But where was Ravenna?! She doesn't get nearly enough screentime!

Snow White and the Huntsman isn't all bad. The opening 20 minutes are great - purely because of Charlize Theron - and Snow White's escape from the tower is genuinely suspenseful. Who'd have thought Snow White could be such a good runner and swimmer despite being locked up for most of her life and being pursued by trained guards?! There are some really nice costumes in this film. For me though, the best things about the film are the special effects and the Florence and the Machine song that's played over the end credits. I have to admit that Snow White and the Huntsman is a visually stunning film. There are some amazing special effects in it! In fact I would even argue that the special effects in this film rival Avatar's at times. And considering that Avatar cost almost twice as much to make that's a huge achievement!  The special effects are outstanding in this film. I especially enjoyed the scene where Snow White is hallucinating in the forest - very trippy! - and the scene where Ravenna is turning back into a human after magically transforming herself into a flock of ravens. The Florence and the Machine song that's played over the end credits, Breath of Life, is awesome too. I'm a big Florence and the Machine fan and I think it's one of the best songs that Florence Welch has yet written. I'll end the review with that song : )

Rating: 2/5 (for Charlize Theron, the CGI and Breath of Life)


Mizzie-Me said...

I wondered about so many things while watching this movie.
1. How the heck did Snow White manage to stay on a bare-back horse galloping at full speed when, as you pointed out, she's been locked in a tower for ages??
2. What kind of an accent was the Huntsman trying to do?? (thanks for clearing that up)
3. Like you, I seriously wondered how such a bland person as Stewart's interpretation of Snow White was supposed to inspire everyone to fight for her and have two guys drooling over her.

Indigo Montoya said...

Going straight to your third point, I know! She was so miscast!

Have you seen the film 'Mirror Mirror' by any chance? It's a completely different take on the Snow White fairytale and much to my surprise I really liked it! It's cute and fun and feel-good and Lily Collins is a FAR better Snow White. Apparently she actually auditioned for the Snow White role in this film but for some bizarre reason they went with KS instead! I think the fact that she's more famous probably had a lot to do with it... Someone online suggested that Emilia Clarke & Katie McGrath would have made great Snow Whites as well and I completely agree.