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Snow White and the Huntsman

on May 31, 2012 by Kate Erbland
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snowwhitepred.pngThe recent resurgence of "revisionist" fairy tales means that audiences have been gifted not one, but two new takes on the Snow White tale in 11 weeks. In his feature debut, commerical director Rupert Sanders shows off his unquestionable flair and eye for style and design, but his Snow White and the Huntsman is an entirely different animal than Tarsem Singh's equally visually-bent Mirror Mirror. A dark and gritty take on the classic, Sanders succeeds mightily in the look and feel of his film, but his ability to direct his impressive cast is severely lackingparticularly his two leading ladies, Charlize Theron and Kristen Stewart, who chew the scenery as if it were a delicious (and not poisoned) apple. While the film benefits from solid work by Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, and a highly skilled set of dwarves, it's hard to imagine who will thrill to this violent, gorgeous, and empty film.

The script, by Evan Daugherty with additional work by John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini, sticks closely to the bones of the classic Snow White tale, even pulling direct quotes from the brothers Grimm original. Young Snow is born into a kingdom of love, which is meticulously broken down after the death of her beloved mother and the domination of both her father and her throne by an evil and beautiful queen. Theron's Ravenna makes quick work capturing both Snow's father (Noah Huntley) and his kingdom, thanks to her evil and nebulous powers which are never satisfyingly explained. Snow is tossed into a tower and forgotten by everyone but Ravenna's hideous creep of a brother, until a magic mirrora solid trick of movie wondertells the Queen that she is no longer the fairest of them all. Stewart's ingenious and brave Snow White flees to the horrifying Dark Forest with a huntsman (Hemsworth) on her tail who's been dispatched by the queen and promised a reward beyond riches.

Sanders handily and economically sets up both his characters and their motivations. Sure, that's a basic tenant of all movie-making, but it's one that often gets tossed by the wayside in films that use breathtaking visuals to elevate themselves beyond their simple stories. Eventually bonded together, Snow White (who is called this name only by her mother) and the Huntsman (who never even gets a name) set off for the palace of Duke Hammond (Vincent Regan), the last true servant of the dead king, the father of Snow's childhood playmate William (Claflin), and the leader of a small but mighty army bent on avenging the crown.

Along the way, the pair encounter both friend and foe and explore forests both dark and safe, with Sanders working his visual magic. It's gritty fantasy style is a good fit, as like all fairy tale films, it must conjure up believable spells and sorcery while also rooting itself in some kind of reality to keep the whole thing from looking silly. Snow White and the Huntsman very firmly exists in its own world, a marvel created by Sanders' direction and what Daugherty imagined on the page, and its spooky handsomeness is easily the best part of the film.

Unfortunately, the worst part is the performances. Stewart is game, but she never captures any of the qualities we are continually told she possessesafter all, Snow White is not only supposed to be the fairest in all the land, she's also believed to have the ability to restore life itself to her desecrated kingdom. A tall order from any performer, especially when Stewart is still unable to kick some of her bad tics: she hides behind her hair and bites her lips. Yet it's Theron's Ravenna who's the most truly confounding performance. Theron screeches and caws like the birds that flock around hera destructive biological impulse as Ravanna loves killing, eating, and wearing them. Theron has done "evil hiding behind a beautiful face" before. Just in December, she turned in one of the best performances of her career as the savage homecoming queen in Young Adult. But in Snow White and the Huntsman, all nuance is removed: Theron crashes and flaps about and we're all waiting for her to die. It's a pity that Stewart and Theron cannot live up to the rest of the film. Snow White and the Huntsman aches for a painful, pumping heart but its leading ladies are bloodless.


Distributor: Universal
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Sam Claflin, Sam Spurell, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone
Director: Rupert Sanders
Screenwriters: Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock, Hossein Amini
Producers: Laurie Boccaccio, Gloria S. Borders, Sarah Bradshaw, Helen Hayden, Sam Mercer, Palak Patel, Joe Roth
Genre: Action/Adventure/Drama/Fantasy
Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and brief sensuality
Running time: 127 min.
Release date: June 1, 2012

 

Tags: Joe Roth, Palak Patel, Sam Mercer, Helen Hayden, Sarah Bradshaw, Gloria S. Borders, Laurie Boccaccio, Hossein Amini, John Lee Hancock, Evan Daugherty, Rupert Sanders, Ray Winstone, Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, Sam Spurell, Sam Claflin, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Stewart
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3 Comments

  • Jenniffer on 01 June 2012

    Uhh... when did Stewart bite her lips, hide behind her "Snow White" hair? You do mean the long black hair Snow is suppose to have right? Did you know that? Bad tics? Like the ones back in 2008 that only you are still seeing since you don't give us the specific scene she does this in? Theron crashes and flaps? Theron cannot live up to the rest of the movie... WHAT??? What movie did you see Ms. Critic? Where you at the theater at all? Also, can you please spare us of the Twilight comparisons next time you plan on writing a "serious" review on Ms. Stewart, it's getting kinda old and we're tired of it ya' know, besides you really need to do your "work" by actually watching the movie next time. Thank you, but I'm Snow White anyway.

  • Milas Isophene on 07 June 2012

    I disagree, Charlize Theron was not the most captivating performance of the film like we all thought she would be going into it. After watching the film, we may want to say Charlize, but honestly the top credit goes to CHRIS HEMSWORTH! Probably because he has more screen time than Charlize, at least it feels like it.

    I don't see the tics or lip biting from Kristen Stewart, however, I agree that she is a terrible actress and resorts to the same tactics EVERY TIME! This part should've gone to an unknown and Hollywood could've launched a career, which they should do A LOT MORE OF but never do!

    The word on the street in the industry was that the script needed work and it was very clear with this film. It could've been a lot better with a lot of the points in the story. For starters not hinting at a possible romance in the end would've taken away the middle finger it felt like I received.

  • Milas Isophene on 07 June 2012

    This is what I officially said about the film ...

    3 Out of 5 Stars

    “Do you hear that? It's the sound of battles fought and lives lost. It once pained me to know that I am the cause of such despair. But now their cries give me strength. Beauty is my power. Lips red as blood, hair black as night, bring me your heart … my dear … Snow … White … hahahahaha!!”

    The darker tone of the 2nd story told in one year, Snow White & The Huntsman brings a more evil and cynical twist on the classic fairy tale. It’s action packed and full of adventure … or at least it’s made out to be that way.

    Charlize Theron portrays the evil queen Ravenna whose mother put a beauty blessing/curse on her as a child to save her life when her town was invaded from its enemies. She becomes a power hungry, evil ruler as she takes over kingdoms by overthrowing the king by taking their soul and beauty; comprising her own “beauty” needed for survival. Only the fairest, Snow White (Kristen Stewart) could replace her as queen as revealed by her precious mirror on the wall that I would’ve liked to have seen some more visual personality from (and that looked like an Asian “gong” and not a fancy mirror to fit in this new twist on the story that the filmmakers were going for). So Ravenna needs the heart of the daughter of the new king she’s now overthrown to rule this land in this lifetime she’s now ruling within (yeah kind of like Rapunzel). Snow White’s soul & beauty will give the queen immortality and will no longer need to feed off of the beauty of others. But Snow White escapes and a “huntsman” (Chris Hemsworth) is called in to retrieve her from the dark forest she’s fled to, but ends up discovering the truth and the two set out on a quest to relinquish the evil queen.

    Once that was established in the first act, the movie lost its edge. It had a great opening tone that kicked off the story and gave the sense of “okay, I like where this is going”. Then it dragged a bit and had “filler” moments instead of “key plot points”. Filler moments give the audience a feeling of “this is just kind of going along”; key plot points make us forget everything and intrigue us in this world and this story we’re now apart of. Throw in some over dramatized, one-dimensional acting from “that Twilight chick”, Kristen Stewart, some CG’d familiar faces on smaller bodies, an over emphasized accent of Charlize Theron, a beautiful score from James Newton Howard, and some pretty good visual effects with the action sequences and you’ve got Snow White & The Huntsman. Not extremely pathetic like the comedic version of the fairy tale earlier in the year, but FAR from great!

    One of the few good things of the film was Chris Hemsworth. His Australian decent really helps him in the American film market to portray a different array of characters, especially as of late. So it’s only natural to sound different with the different characters one portrays. His accent is amazing as he adjusts his roots and heritage to the roles he plays. This is no different with The Huntsman, a widower hunter and warrior of his village who drowns his sorrows in alcohol from the loss of his wife. I would’ve liked to see more development and back-story in his character, as it’s a key role in the survival of the main story. This movie may go down in flames but Chris Hemsworth will definitely rise from the ashes as I believe he’s taken away the shine from Charilze Theron, the person we all probably thought would steal the show. I don’t know, maybe they should’ve given her more screen time then.

    What I thought to be true before and now after seeing the film, about definitely not stealing the show is the acting from Kristen Stewart. I could write a review on her performance alone! But to keep it short and sweet, it was the same as it always is, one-dimensional. A good way to think of it is, if there was a young teen girl lead version of the movie 7 Pounds, she might just do an amazing job for once! Instead of using Will Smith, re-write it to use Kristen Stewart, a girl who ALWAYS acts IN EVERY SCENE as if the world is going to end WITH EVERY WAKING BREATH SHE TAKES or with everything that happens, the world WILL end! I think this role should’ve been cast to someone who holds a more artsy type of beauty to her. Someone kind of cute even, when we look at her we just think “wow, she portrays an innocent beauty … I like her”. I would’ve loved to see Amanda Seyfried play this part; it looks like something right up her alley. The only task would be a convincing fighter side to her that rallies up the troops to lead them against the evil Charlize Theron.

    Overall, this film has its moments that are just a little too fairy tale (no pun intended). The film comes off as a more realistic, down and dirty version of this story. Yet some things come off as a studio executive trying to throw his/her 2 cents in because it looks cool and is a good selling point to throw in the trailer or the key art (the posters). Which a lot of trailer moments are just that, trailer moments, that have absolutely no input in the story to drive it forward, they just … look cool. Why in the world does Charlize Theron take a bath in white wax-like substance?!

    During inception the film probably had great merit, some of which I’m sure carried over into the final cut. But in the end, Hollywood took over and infiltrated it in fear of non-profit repercussions. I’m sure before this it was a really good movie. But as the credits rolled when it was over, I could hear people behind me say, “Yeah it could’ve been a lot better …”

    Snow White & The Huntsman
    Action & Adventure, 127 Minutes, PG-13
    Screen Story by: Evan Daugherty
    Screenplay by: Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock, and Hossein Amini
    Directed by: Rupert Sanders
    Cast: Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, and Chris Hemsworth

What do you think?