Release Date: June 1, 2012
Studio: Universal Pictures
Director: Rupert Sanders
Screenwriter: Evan Daugherty, Evan Spiliotopoulos, Hossein Amini, John Lee Hancock, Jez Butterworth
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, Eddie Izzard, Bob Hoskins, Toby Jones, Eddie Marsan, Stephen Graham, Ray Winstone, Lily Cole, Sam Spruell, Liberty Ross, Noah Huntley
Genre: Action, Adventure
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and action, and brief sensuality)
Official Website: SnowWhiteandtheHuntsman.com
It’s a grotesque journey from dark to light, a unique retelling of the classic tale that verges on the side of the twisted and insane. It was an incredibly beautiful film even with it’s sick and twisted interpretation. However, the mismash of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, vampire lore – such as with the story of Elizabeth Bathory – was odd enough to make me wonder if the plot actually spun into anything significant.
And if I ever wanted to know what it feels like to get high, this film succeeds with flying colors!
The story takes place on the familiar fantasy terrain, and Snow White (Stewart) is the only woman in the land who threatens the Queen (Theron) and her unequaled beauty. Snow White runs away and the Queen hires an aggressively reluctant huntsman (Hemsworth) to hunt her down so she can devour her heart and have ever lasting youth. But in true pseudo-love-story form, the Huntsman sees the purity in Snow White and prepares her for the worst, while in turn, Snow White shows the Huntsman compassion and friendship. Together they share in an adventure that’s based in good versus evil, dark vs. light, with a plethora of magical elements.
I mentioned the above phrase, “with flying colors,” which is incredibly appropriate for this film with its wonderfully clever usage of darker tones juxtaposed against the brighter colors. In fact, the entire film is FLUSHED with blacks and whites, with the occasional red apple. With this infusion of the two color depictions, and the different shades of each, the film does present an interesting question – Does white always have to represent good, and vice versa with black representing evil? Sure, the queen wears a terrifyingly black outfit, but she bears a lighter color tone than the film’s protagonist does. It’s a confusing visual depiction to say the least, but a wonder to behold.
That’s really where the greatness of this film lies, within it’s visuals. Carrying the rest of the burden of making this film worth while lay with the cast…minus one.
Chris Hemsworth’s hit the jackpot thanks to the Avengers, and now has complete control over the reigns of his acting career thanks to his stellar performance as the Huntsman. Along with Theron, he’s the saving grace of the movie and provides a lot of depth and emotion in a character that started out as someone who could care less about the people and the Kingdom.
Charlize Theron, the reason the bulk of movie goers saw this film, delivers a captivating and chilling performance. This was an interesting take, on the screen writer’s part, to make the queen not only evil and twisted, but depressed and sympathetic. As an audience, we see why the Queen is such a tyrant, giving us a reason sympathize with her. But even Theron can’t save a script that’s overly poetic and analytical, forcing the cast to overact.
Thus comes Stewart’s “Oscar” speech, which is laughable at best. But let’s not throw the fault completely at her. The speech, which was meant to inspire the soldiers to brave the oncoming danger, was only successful because the director told them to make it so. Stewart’s performance, however, was less filled with dialog and more with angsty driven moments of ecstasy. Was this the director’s choice, or is Stewart simply unable to move past the type of performance she typically portrays thanks to Twilight; always unpleasantly writhing due to some outer force which compels her to act with such sullen malaise. It’s almost as if she has a disease she’s fighting throughout the film, and it feels more out of place than as apart of the story. With her contemporary edge, is it possible that she’s acting in the wrong era? If only we had the same magical burden of Dwarf Muir due to being blind – seeing the potential in individuals which others cannot see.
At the film’s core, however, is the subliminal messaging of getting high and how it makes you happy – which is true. Not a moment goes by where it doesn’t seem like someone just took a heaving whiff of meth or cocaine. Do the dwarves simply live off of Heroine? It certainly seems like it. The dwarves always seem exceptionally happy, especially Muir. (Bob Hoskins) Even the animals in the gorgeously animated forest scene seem to be the after affect of the dwarves drug addiction. But I don’t think anything will cure Snow White’s constantly depressed state of mind, which could have been caused by an overdose of Marijuana. And I’ll just make the assumption that the queen is injected daily with LSD since she always has an altered state of mind, seeing things that aren’t there. Is it possible that the nameless Huntsman is the only sensible one, partaking in the normal drinking of beer, getting into drunken fights, only to wake up with minor migraines the next morning? I think so. No wonder he dislikes people, they’re all crazy due to drug induced insanity! Perhaps an appearance from Dopey would have been appropriate?
It’s hard to sit through a two hour long film in which we already know the plot. I’ve known the plot since I was 5 years old! So it was nice to see some of the story telling upgrades to make the already known plot seem fresh and new. The apple was poisoned not because of some magical potion poured into it, but rather because of the decaying land. The dwarves aren’t the cutesy Disney versions from the 1937 Disney film, but rather a brutish and vile lot who have the only humorous moment (singular) in the film’s 2 hour duration. As mentioned above, the Queen is completely reinvented where we can sympathize with her and her newly discovered humanity, and despite Stewart’s lack luster, over compensating performance, turning Snow White into a stronger character rather than a damsel in distress was an intelligent move.
The problems occur in the plot’s overall purpose; the character developing moments are quite odd and the reasoning behind the character’s motivations could have made sense if only the execution and writing were better. The story goes off the deep end with its “Snow White turned Joan of Arc” motif with no reason for being except for the strangely placed sense of patriotism she obtains that was never alluded to prior. The transition for the Huntsman from brute to caring man was more abrupt than fluid, as was the queen’s final bow as she crawled away from Snow White in fear of…something? It was never made clear as to what the Queen was trying to accomplish; was she simply attempting to be the fairest in all the land, or did she have some misplaced concern for the people?
“I will give this wretched world the Queen it deserves.”
“Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, who is the Fairest of them all?”
Which is it? I couldn’t tell.
Transitions seem to be a problem with this film as this juxtaposition from darkness to light, while gorgeous to look at, is overly drawn out and sluggish, with nothing tangible in sight.
A single viewing was and will be enough for me. I loved looking at the special effects of the film as well as enjoying some of the story alterations, but overall this is not a movie worth its price of admission. If you’re into 2 hour long durations of the after effects of drugs, by all means, go see this film. But if you can wait until it’s streamable online, then go with that option. There is a poison apple lurking around in seeing this film, and you might just bite into it by accident.