Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"Snow White and the Huntsman"

Directed by Rupert Sanders, written by Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock, and Hossein Amini, starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, and Charlize Theron - Rated PG-13

This film just wasn't dark and action-packed enough for me. 

Snow White is suddenly a hot property in Hollywood as not just one, but two new films about the fairy tale have been released in recent months.  I skipped out on Mirror Mirror because it simply didn’t interest me and appeared to be going with a safe, family friendly tone (no offense to safe, family friendly movies, but those types of films don’t appeal to me).  The second film, Snow White and the Huntsman, appeared to be geared more towards my demographic with its action packed previews and dark tone.  While I’m sure that this film is more enjoyable than Mirror Mirror, Snow White turned out to be overlong, a bit boring, and just underwhelming in general. 
You should know the story by now, but even if you just remember the bits and pieces of it (like me), then you still probably know what to expect from this film.  You have the princess (Kristen Stewart) and the evil queen (Charlize Theron), the seven dwarves, a talking mirror, a magical forest, a poison apple, a love story, etc.  The whole point of this incarnation is to be darker than the cartoon version most know.  As far as that is concerned, Snow White is a success.  The kingdom in this film is truly miserable as dead bodies are caged up in the streets and young women are taken from their homes never to return.  The two standout dark elements are the drug-trippy forest featuring truly grotesque images and Theron as the evil queen who engages in Elizabeth Bathory-like (Google it) antics to retain her youth.  Those elements account for the best parts of the film.

The rest pales in comparison or consists of misfires.  First off, the film attempts to inject action into the fairy tale and there are some action sequences, but they are incredibly dull.  The action is chaotic and hard to follow and is simply not interesting.  It’s just a bunch of arrows and sword slashes and people falling down.  Some supernatural action elements start off promising (like the troll), but fizzle out quickly. 

The titular Huntsman raises some issues as well.  Nothing against Chris Hemsworth, though.  His performance was fine and he is one of the more interesting characters in the film.  But his inclusion creates this love triangle issue between him and some duke’s son (who is pretty much a non-character).  I can’t remember if there was a love triangle in the original story, but regardless it just made this film more bloated than it needed to be.  Does Kristen Stewart always have to have two men vying for her?  Is it in her contract or something?  It felt tacked on and pointless in this film.  This could have been easily fixed had the Huntsman and the duke’s son been condensed into one character. 
Screen time that was wasted on the duke’s son could have been used on the dwarves.  I don’t want to waste time listing all of the actors’ names, but they all deserved so much more screen time and they seem to appear as an afterthought in the film.  If they had been introduced early on, the film would have benefitted greatly and there could be more character development with at least a few of the brilliant actors portraying them.  Instead, they serve as awkward comedic relief in the third act. 
Snow White and the Huntsman just has a bit too much going on and is unable to focus on anything for too long for it to become compelling.  If some cuts in the right places had been made, perhaps the running time could have been cut down (it clocks in at over two hours) and more deserving elements could get some attention.  It seems as if someone wanted to make a Lord of the Rings film out of the Snow White tale and that’s all they were worried about. 

Think about it: they have true evil in Theron (Sauron), there are dwarves (hobbits), and there’s a long journey to save a kingdom (Middle Earth).  The long journey is the worst part.  There are so many scenes of walking and campfire chats in this film.  That just isn’t good cinema; especially when you don’t care what the characters are talking about and you are 99% sure the characters will end up where they need to be. 

Snow White and the Huntsman is a film that is all over the place.  Some of the movie works, but far too much of it seemed pointless to me.  It is not an unredeemable film, though, and there will certainly be fans (and probably a sequel).  If it works for you, fine.  Me?  If I want to see Lord of the Rings, I’ll just watch that instead.
Random Thoughts (SPOILERS)
I know it's a fairy tale and all, but how in the hell did Snow White learn how to handle a sword?  She was locked up for a decade or so with nothing but weird little stick dolls, yet when she gets released she can take down trained knights.  It doesn't help that it's Kristen Stewart, who looks like she should collapse under the weight of her armor.
Anyone else notice that the love triangle was just swept under the rug by having Hemsworth smile at her at the end?  What was that?  I know the movie was too long and an extra scene wrapping that story up would just be too much, but why even throw in that aspect if you can't finish it?  Just have the duke's son wake her up with a kiss if you can't devote time to the love triangle part.  Would it be so bad for the Huntsman to just help out and continue to grieve for his dead wife? 
Seriously, you get Ian McShane, Toby Jones, Eddie Marsan, Nick Frost, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, and a few other lesser known actors and you don't have them show up for an hour.  And then you just use them for weak jokes and an odd death moment?  That death meant nothing, by the way, because we barely saw the character before he died.  Oh no, I can't believe they killed off that dwarf that had just been introduced ten minutes ago?  How could they kill off...wait, which one was he?
I know it's a fairy tale, but the actual fairies just looked stupid.

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