Posted May 31, 2012 by Mikael Angelo Francisco in Movies/TV

MOVIE REVIEW: Snow White and the Huntsman

Snow White and the Huntsman MOVIE REVIEW–

Note: For the purpose of discussion, this review contains a few plot details and one or two minor spoilers
United International Pictures, Solar Entertainment Corporation
Philippine Release: June 1, 2012
Rated PG-13
127 minutes

Call me jaded, a cynic, or a negative nancy (though quite frankly I’d prefer “hey, handsome”), but at this point, I’ve breezed through enough books, comics, TV shows and movies to let go of the notion that such a thing as an “original idea” still exists. I’ve come to accept that there are no more  (or very, very few) original ideas, just original (or really, really creative) spins. Case in point: Snow White. It’s a classic fairy tale that everyone knows by heart. Little girls grew up singing “somedaaay, my prince will cooome,” and little boys were disgusted by the thought of kissing “icky” girls, because let’s face it, little boys aren’t always exceptionally bright.

Anyway, Snow White’s tale is one that has been told and retold, time and again. Every single attempt at telling the story is met with at least some degree of anticipation, probably because people just can’t resist the concept of alternate universes. There’s the well-known version of the story by the Brothers Grimm, the sweet and delightfully rosy-cheeked Disney version, the rather excellent Snow, Glass, Apples short by Neil Gaiman, that horror movie with Sigourney Weaver, and even that Warner Brothers cartoon, Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs.

Now, this year has seen not just one, but two spins on the don’t-eat-red-shiny-apples yarn. There’s that movie starring Lily Collins, Mirror Mirror. Haven’t seen that movie yet, so I can’t really say whether it’s good or not. It has Julia Roberts though; consider yourself warned. And of course, there’s this movie, which, if it were a Marvel comic, could be called either “What if Snow White tried to be a badass” or “What if Aragorn were a girl?”

Burned into your retinas. FOREVER.

Snow White and the Huntsman, directed by Rupert Sanders, tells the story of how a hunter named Eric (played by Tho- I mean, Chris Hemsworth) was tricked by an evil queen, Ravenna (played by Aeon Fl-, I mean, Charlize Theron) into hunting and capturing her stepdaughter Snow White (played by Kristen Stewart’s front teeth). Along the way, the hunter and the princess yadda yadda spunky dwarfs et cetera poisoned apple blah blah happily ever after. Come on, we all know the story, these are hardly spoilers at this point.

Q: Was it good?

A: It has Kristen Stewart, for crying out loud.

Pictured: Pearly, er, Snow White.

Let’s talk about the things I liked about the movie first. The visual effects were great; the Dead Forest  in particular was appropriately barren and terrifying. The fairies and magical woodland creatures were rendered so realistically that you could almost swear they do exist. The dwarves easily stole the show; they were efficient, had hilarious scenes, and played an important role in the deciding battle. Charlize Theron was a great choice for the queen, transitioning between “elegant” and “batshit crazy” when the scene calls for it, while having a wide range of expressions that could make you love her and THEN be utterly terrified of her in a matter of seconds. Plus, the idea of Snow White leading a pissed-off militia on horseback to overthrow a wicked dictatorship? I think that ranks somewhere between “Spider-Man with a lightsaber” and “Blade stabbing the shit out of Edward Cullen” on the Fictional Coolness scale. Based on that premise, and that cool picture of Snow White in armor, I had high expectations for this movie. Hell, I was willing to forgive them for giving Bella’s mouth the starring role.

Plus, her mouth’s closed in this one. Come on, that alone makes it a winner.

Unfortunately, I ended up leaving the theater scratching my head in disappointment and confusion.

The problem with Snow White and the Huntsman is that, in a seemingly mad rush to cram everything into the movie while giving them a different spin, some crucial story points are left unexplained. After watching the movie, ask yourself the following questions, and try to answer them within the boundaries of the movie’s continuity and disregarding any knowledge of the source material: What’s the deal with the apple; why did it kill Snow White? What’s up with “the kiss”, and why did it solve their “Snow White is deeeeeead” problem? How the heck did the Queen’s forces know that a drunk, brawling bastard can guide them in the search for Snow White because “he has been to the Dark Forest”? There’s no set-up! It just…kind of happens. Just like that. Furthermore, a significant number of details is told, not shown, and that really bothers me. Like, “aw damn, why am I doing this again? EXPOSITION!”

Also, Kristen Stewart just isn’t convincing as a “strong female lead” character. I almost had to stuff my fist in my mouth to stop myself from giggling during the scene where she was giving a classic “hero” speech to boost morale. Now, I don’t know if this is just my problem, since I haven’t seen most of Chris Hemsworth’s other movies, but he seemed to be Thor-ing it up so much that I was surprised he didn’t have more axe-throwing scenes while yelling HAVE AT THEE!

“Let go of mine axe, foul tree!”

In addition to that, most of the scenes that were clearly meant to be emotional seemed to fall flat, perhaps due to a lack of proper buildup during the start and middle of the movie. Lastly, given the queen’s power levels, I had a hard time trying to understand why she’d waste time on the kingdom in the first place. Sure, it’s been – sigh – explained, but it still doesn’t hold water for me.

There was one other male lead thrown into the mix: William, the duke’s son (Sam Claflin). He was shown to be a competent archer (think “above Katniss but below Hawkeye”) and devoted to Snow and…well, that’s it. He kind of faded into the background, which makes me think that he was just shoehorned in for the sake of misdirection (ooh, slight spoiler!) and the need to fill the role of “handsome prince”.

I also have an issue with “the kiss”. You know, the one that brings Snow White back to life. I saw it, and…I don’t know. The way it happened, it just seemed, felt, so wrong.

Additionally, for some reason the gratuitous violence here bothers me. I don’t know. I’m normally not squeamish when it comes to these things, but there’s something about the violence here that really puts me off. One more thing – the whole Snow-White-leading-her-army sequence? It felt rushed and too short, and didn’t make as much of an impact as I thought it would.

This movie has also made me realize just how much I dislike Kristen Stewart’s mouth.

This is like Megan Fox’s mouth, except even less sexy.

Verdict: If you have a date who really wants to see this, well, go ahead. I wouldn’t recommend seeing it alone; I got bored real fast and was checking my phone every 5 minutes or so. Don’t get me wrong – this is an interesting concept, and a retelling that HAD to be told. It’s just that it didn’t get executed as well as it could have been.

This is kind of like a bedtime story, except instead of getting tucked into bed with a glass of warm milk on the bedside table, we ended up getting the couch and some stale popcorn.

Mikael Angelo Francisco