From the producers of Alice in Wonderland and The Sixth Sense comes an adult telling of a children’s classic fairy tale. Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, and Chris Hemsworth star in Universal Picture’s Snow White and the Huntsman. Is this adaptation the fairest in the land or should it have just eaten the poison apple?
A long time ago in a far away kingdom, a Queen walked through her garden in the wintertime. She notices a single rose that is strong enough to survive the snowfall. As she goes to grab it, she pricks her fingers and three drops of blood hit the white snow; making her notice how powerful the color white is compared to the ruby red. Later, she has a daughter. The Queen names her Snow White to commemorate her beauty and strength.
Snow White grows up to be a very beautiful young girl. She is known throughout the land to be the fairest. She and her friend, William, play games and explore. But Snow White’s life is about to change: her mother is sick and does not survive the next winter, her father, the King, is heart broken. It is at this time a mysterious black army threatens the kingdom. The King and his men travel to defeat the men spawned by Satan and, after the battle, they come upon a prisoner: a beautiful woman named Ravenna. The King is so overcome by her beauty, that by the next day he makes her his Queen.
The night of their wedding, Ravenna shows her true colors. She was the wicked person who conjured the fake army in a ruse to lure the King out of the sanctuary of his kingdom. She kills the King in their honeymoon bed, and summons her real army to storm the castle to kill everyone. With the hostile takeover complete, she captures Snow White and locks her away in the tower for many, many years. The Queen has lived for twenty lifetimes and destroyed many kingdoms to maintain her eternal youth, a spell given to her by her mother that can only be broken by someone who is of fairest blood. In order to maintain the security of her youth, she must consult a magic mirror to make sure she is always the fairest in the land. If any woman challenges her beauty, she drains them of it and absorbs it into her own. For this reason, many women mutilate themselves to keep below her radar. As Ravenna becomes stronger, the plants and wildlife surrounding the land withers and dies leaving barren wastelands throughout.
One day, with the guidance of a couple magical birds, Snow White escapes her prison cell and flees the castle through the sewer system, washing up on the beach. There, she is greeted by a white stallion and heads towards the Dark Forest to get away from her would be captures. Afraid of the dangers of the forest, Queen Ravenna’s men inform her of Snow White’s escape. The wicked Queen summons a drunkard, rough around the edges huntsman who survived the Dark Forest before. She makes a deal with him, that if he captures Snow White, she will bring his wife back from the dead. He reluctantly agrees.
The Huntsman, along with the Queen’s brother and his men, track down Snow White. Realizing that the Queen would never be able to bring his wife back, he decides to help Snow White and leave the forest. It is now up to the Huntsman, along with seven dwarves, to safely escort Snow White to the last remaining kingdom still ready to stand up to the Queen and end her rule of darkness and despair.
Snow White and the Huntsman is a re-imagining of the classic fairy tale made famous by the Walt Disney animated movie. It is visually stunning to watch, but falls short on story and acting. To be fair, maybe I am not in the right demographic that the film is intended for. The movie’s top billed actress is Kristen Stewart, from the Twilight saga. I feel that the movie purposely cast her in the lead role to cater to the tween crowd and Chris Hemsworth (Thor/ Marvel’s The Avengers) to lure the guy audience. While Chris Hemsworth does a good job as the likeable Huntsman, the movie suffers dramatically from the sub-par acting of Stewart. I at no time felt sympathy for her plight against the evil Queen. And, let’s face it, the main plot of the movie is about beauty. Is Charlize Theron really that threatened by Stewart’s looks? I’m sorry, but not once I thought it was believable. Why not have Natalie Portman or Kiera Knightley? Now I am not trying to purposely bash on Miss Stewart because I’m admittedly not a fan of the Twilight movies, but even the main criticism from the actual fans of that franchise is her inability to portray a sympathetic character. Charlize Theron should have had top billing. Hell, she won an Oscar. While Theron’s performance may be deemed a bit over dramatic, I feel it was necessary to portray her almost insane obsession in maintaining her youth and the extreme measures she has to take.
The other major downfall of Snow White and the Huntsman is long drawn out story. At 127 minutes, I found myself in my seat just plain bored. The 1937 Walt Disney animated feature is only 83 minutes long and it is filled with musical numbers. Granted it was nice to learn about the back story of the Queen’s wicked origin, but it started out as a man bashing commentary about how men use women for their looks and then throw them away. Yes, I get it. It is sad, but that particular dialogue wasn’t really needed. For a Queen who is against men, she is nothing but reliant on them: her brother, all her soldiers, and of course the Huntsman. She should have been Queen of the Amazons, but then again she hates other women. While I am on the topic of her brother, Finn, portrayed by Sam Spruell, has a relationship between him and his sister that was almost creepily incestuous. He also reminded me of an albino Lord Fauntleroy with a horrible hair cut. The other thing that dragged the movie out was the crap-tacular pacing. One moment the Huntsman is fighting a troll for three minutes, then they walk for ten. They meet the Dwarves, and then walk some more. Snow White eats the famous poisoned apple, passes out, so now they have to walk some more, this time carrying her. It was almost like the movie turned into The Lord of the Rings with all this walking going on. Imagine Snow White is the one ring to rule them all, The Dwarves and Huntsman are the “Fellowship”, and they have to dump her off at Mordor. Come to think of it, that would have been a great movie, “The Adventures of Throwing Kristen Stewart into a Volcano.” I’d pay money to see that. The Movie also dragged out between the hinted love triangle between Snow White, The Huntsman, and her childhood friend, William, portrayed by Sam Claflin. Claflin’s character, I assume, was supposed to be a Prince Charming type character, but doesn’t add anything of significance to the plot.
What makes Snow White and the Huntsman not a downright disaster are the stunning visuals and fantastic computer graphic effects. The costumes were great, the sets were remarkable the creatures like the troll and the fairies were marvelous and the make-up effects were superb. I would go so far to predict that this movie will be nominated for one of the above categories in next year’s Academy Awards. That is a huge compliment to the film. Some of the creatures even had the look and feel of a Guillermo Del Toro film. The other bright spot are the Dwarves themselves. Not only did they take full sized actors and shrink them down a’la Peter Jackson’s Hobbits, but their roles were filled by some amazing actors behind great make up. Now they do not have the traditional names of Happy, Doc, Grumpy, and Dopey, but their performance was the highlight of the film. The cast of dwarves includes Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, and Brian Gleeson. The one surprise was that the movie was not offered in 3D. There were moments that I think would have been fantastic in 3D, but I guess the studio decided not to convert it.
Snow White and the Huntsman is not at all a children’s movie. There may be some intense and confusing moments for a younger audience due to the incredibly dark overtones. For that, wait for Mirror, Mirror to hit the rental shelves. I feel the Kristen Stewart effect of this movie is going to cater to the Twilight fans who are going to drag their boyfriends in because Thor is in it. If you are a twilight fan, you may even find yourself rooting for either Team Huntsman or Team William. I think the other possible problem of the film is that is the directorial debut of Rupert Sanders. This is his only entry in his IMDB. I guess that’s why the tagline is that’s it’s from the “Producer of Alice in Wonderland.” They don’t even mention who directs it. So if you are into the ‘tween retelling of classics such as Red Riding Hood, then you may like Snow White and the Huntsmen a lot. If you didn’t, just remember that your girlfriend or wife will adore you for taking them to the movies. At least it’s not Twilight.
In Theaters: June 1, 2012
Runtime: 2 hours 7 minutes
Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and action, and brief sensuality)
Director: Rupert Sanders
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin
Genre: Adaptation, Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Fantasy
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Official Site: http://www.snowwhiteandthehuntsman.com/
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