Snow White and the Huntsman

"You have eyes, huntsman, but you do not see. She is the one."

This movie is pretty much as you’d expect it to be. It’s Snow White, just embellished to give it enough dimension to work as a large-scope action-adventure. That’s not to say it’s a bad movie though, it’s actually pretty great, and leaves very little left to the imagination, as creative and physical ingenuity take the story to new, exciting heights.

The main reason I wanted to review this movie was my connection to a certain other representation of this story. Once Upon a Time is far closer to the Disney version of Snow White than this film was. In fact, the tagline “this is no fairytale” couldn’t be truer in expressing this film’s morals. The Snow White in Once Upon a Time is given a lot more wit and sass, but still gives off the idea of kindness and honesty that make her role as a savoir of a magical kingdom believable. This Snow White takes that goodness to the extreme, but it’s not a bad thing at all, thanks to how well the character was handled.

Surprisingly enough, a lot of Snow White’s success as a character is down to Kristen Stewart’s beautiful interpretation. She brings vulnerability and an easy benevolence to the role, making it so easy to buy into her as this inescapable paragon of good. As the movie progresses, she takes on a different kind of power, but her original demeanour is still there. Not to insult any Twilight fans out there, and I’m a part-fan myself, but those scripts and that character don’t give Stewart much to work with, and it’s so easy to see she’s having a lot of fun here.

The big selling point of this movie is its twist on the story; the huntsman stays by Snow White’s side, and protects her. There’s enough depth and exposition to justify making him such a central part of the script, but it’s not until later on that this different purpose makes sense. Chris Hemsworth is perfect as the surly, drunkard, but still manages a kind of decrepitude that makes you want him to pull through it in the end.

While I was trolling around looking at other reviews prior to seeing this, one of the biggest praises was directed at Charlize Theron, for her wicked representation of Queen Ravenna. Now, she’s just a creepy and wacky as she needed to be, but there were a few moments where Theron took things a little to the extreme, but it’s not that big of a gripe, and it’s justified most of the time. One of the best things about her was how her costumes reflected her journey, as they got darker and more extreme as the movie progresses, essentially mimicking the character's transition into madness. Like the huntsman, there's a a concerted effort made to justify her big role here, but the flashbacks didn't necessarily give me less of a reason to hate her.

The plot is pretty linear, don’t go expecting things to be all that strange and new, save for the fact it’s a lot more expansive and exciting than the original. The story doesn’t feel like it’s been all that stretched though, and newbie director Rupert Sanders doesn’t scrimp on the epic visuals. It’s not until the dwarves make their appearance that any scrap of humour crops up, though. The only major issue with them is that you almost needed subtitles to understand a word some of them were saying. I don’t know if that was the actors' original accents, or if it was just their strange interpretations of the script, but a lot of their dialogue is hard to decipher.

The general consensus among movie goers when I went to see it was positive. Most praised the visuals, like I just did, a lot of them loved Chris Hemsworth’s performance (and abs), and a lot of people followed suit to myself in expressing surprise over Kristen’s ability to transform into this role. There’s definitely fuel for more story to be told here and, without giving too much away, there’s definitely enough left unexplored character-wise for future installments, should that route be chosen. Overall, it’s not perfect, but it’s still pretty damn great.

3 out of 4 magic mirrors.

7 comments:

Nadim said...

Interesting. I will watch it this weekend and report back Panda!

Matthew L said...

Just saw it last night. I liked it. Nice mix of magic and action. Boy did Charlize Theron chew up the scenery. :) I liked this take on the fairy tale. Stands in stark contrast to the earlier Snow White movie, Mirror, Mirror. The two movies went in almost opposite directions. Had a lot of clapping in my audience after it ended. The nightime showings were very well attended.

Nadim said...

Just saw it.
I enjoyed it quite a bit. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by how dark and visually gorgeous the whole thing was. The set design, the production values, everything looked pretty darn majestic and epic.

Thank God somebody else noticed that the dwarves were impossible to understand. Seriously it was really frustrating and their scenes really slowed things down. I think the pacing was kind of erratic since as soon as the seven made their appearance things got a bit too lethargic for my tastes.

Charlize Theron was pretty damn gorgeous in this one. A bit too much screaming and screeching but she really owned the role and I actually liked the attempts to make her semi-vulnerable with the traumatic childhood flashbacks.

Finally, I wasn't too impressed by Chris Hemsworth. He was excellent in Thor but I thought there was something off about him here. Kristen Stewart was surprisingly not bad at all although her sudden warrior status at the end was a bit too sudden.

Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the film all in all. There was a real sense of majesty to the proceedings and it was just such a visually beautiful thing to watch. Thanks for the review Panda.

P.s. the love triangle kind of did go nowhere at the end. I heard rumblings of a potential trilogy. That just sounds too forced.

Matthew L said...

In regards to the love triangle, I think for Snow White, her relationship with William seemed more like brother and sister when they were younger and in the present time, any affection is more on William's side towards Snow White than the other direction.

And if you're going with how the fairy tale went, then the real relationship is between Snow White and the Huntsman as it was his kiss that woke her and at the end during the ceremony, she was looking for him the entire time and once she saw him, she smiled.

Hollywood will make sequels to movies even when there is no logical way to go. And Kristen Stewart herself has said that she would like to continue the storyline. But my question is where do you go from here? The evil queen is gone, where do you look for an enemy? The only thing I can think of is the world of this Snow White version encompasses other fairy tales, perhaps there might be a direction in that direction.

Heck, they made a sequel to The Fugitive, although to me US Marshalls is more of a spin-off movie rather than a sequel.

Perhaps the moviemakers can use the comic book series Fables for ideas.

Panda said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Nadim. I'm surprised you didn't like Hemsworth though, I thought he slid into this role effortlessly. And I don't think any follow-ups would be force since there's a clear-open end for more character growth later on.

I agree with Matthew L about the love triangle. William was a childhood thing, and now that she's more mature, she can see what she really wants. It's the sort of thing that could frame a trilogy really well.

Mark said...

Thought there were great bits throughout, but the whole seemed much less than the parts. Something was off about this movie.

I liked Hemsworth. Up to his introduction, I was watching characters fulfilling their roles. He seemed more like a person, which brought more life to the screen.

Somebody really loved Miyazaki (which isn't a bad thing). The faerie forest seemed inspired by "Princess Mononoke", and the queen oozing reminded me of certain scenes from "Spirited Away".

Matthew L said...

Saw this movie again last night with a group of friends who decided to make it a double feature of Charlize Theron movies, that's right we watched both Snow White and Prometheus. :)

Second time around, I was actually able to understand 90% of what the dwarves said, I think the first time around I only caught about half of what they were saying. Also I didn't notice that before Gus the dwarf dies saving Snow White, there were 8 of them. Noticed that this time around.

Upon a second viewing, I think I like it better. I'm still wondering where they're going with the sequel, I hope it's not going to be focused on the "love triangle" that only superficailly seems to be present.