Sunday, February 28, 2016

Snow White and the Huntsman Film Review


127 Minutes


Mirror Mirror on the Wall – Kristen Stewart is Not Fairest of Them All

I’m sure when most people hear the word Snow White they immediately think of first animated movie made by Disney, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Disney didn’t originate the Snow White story, but they gave it mainstream exposure. The before mentioned film is a classic, and subsequently any future attempts of telling this story through any visual medium will have to face the scrutiny of being compared to the Disney version of the story.

The point being this film has a tall order ahead of it, and surprisingly there are a lot of good ideas in this modern adaptation of the Snow White story.  The Queen, although evil, is a more sympathetic character, and the darker visuals that dominate the film capture the cynical realities of the fairytale.

Despite giving the story a 21st century update, Snow White and the Huntsman is a movie with a lot of problems. Kristen Stewart’s inability to convince audiences that she can portray Snow White is near the top of the list, but other actors in the film struggle as well. Additionally the film suffers from serious pacing issues and some messy transitions between scenes. The treatment of the passage of time makes the story all the less believable.  At the end of the day Snow White and the Huntsman showed that there is potential in giving fairy tales a modern look, but this film never really gets off the ground.

So begins a very redundant plot summary – Snow White (Kristen Stewart), a princess, and daughter of the King and Queen, is being raised by her loving family when her mother dies.  The King re-marries and a new Queen (Charlize Theron) is crowned.  Shortly after the King dies, the Queen imprisons Snow White and begins a destructive reign over the kingdom. The Queen who obsesses over her physical appearance forgets about Snow White until her magic mirror tells her that she may be the one that ends her reign.

Snow White and the Huntsman takes some liberties with the characters and even with the plot, but for the most part all of the well known ingredients from the previous interpretations of Snow White are thrown into the mix.  The Seven Dwarfs are here (they have different names from the Disney dwarfs); the Prince, Queen, Huntsman, and Snow White are all central to the story; and even the famous “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall,” speech makes an appearance, too.

The film’s recognition of the past adaptations adds a nice touch to the story.  The darker visuals, and especially the ever changing costumes and facial appearances of the Queen are among the film’s strongest points.  Charlize Theron embodies the physical appearance of the Queen.  Her feminist centered tirades make her a sympathetic character, but she still channels the twisted and vain attitude that the Queen from Snow White had made famous.  The Queen is the strongest character in this story and Charlize Theron is one of the only actors that come out of this film with their dignity intact.

Unfortunately the Queen is not the center of this story; it instead needs to be carried by Kristen Stewart who does an awful job of portraying Snow White. Kristen Stewart’s mouth hangs open for most of this movie giving her the appearance of being stoned.  In a fantasy world its ok to portray some moments with open mouthed disbelief, but Kristen Stewart looks like she has no clue where she is… and her mouth is open in nearly every scene… she looks like a tramp dog.  When she has to deliver a convincing performance to get the plot back on track – like for example a rally the troops speech – she just ends up embarrassing herself.

This film which has gained notoriety for the affair conducted by director Rupert Sanders and Kristen Stewart during production doesn’t help make Stewart’s performance as Snow White look any more believable.  Snow White who is supposed to be the emblem of purity and beauty – and the film verbatim reminds the audience of this often – looks anything but pure, with the audiences’ knowledge of her personal life and the fact that she looks baked out of her mind.

The Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) and the Duke William (Sam Clalfin) – a small twist on the Prince character – are put into a love triangle with Snow White.  Both characters have the same overly macho masculine man personality who will do anything to fight for a woman they barely know. They have different back stories, but their similarities in personality makes it difficult for the audience to discern between the two.  It also makes them really boring.

The plot seems to have a lot of difficulties transitioning with time.  While Snow White is in the Forbidden forest, it feels like it’s taking place over the course of a day, yet the Queen’s brother manages multiple attacks on Snow White and the Huntsman with different groups of hunters each time.  The transition between all of these scenes is disconcerting because we see brother gathering new forces, talking to the Queen, etc.etc. in again, what appears to be over the course of an entire day.

Protagonist character development in general suffers. A lot of time is spent in the woods or walking around, in what appears to be an attempt to develop the protagonist characters … but the film doesn’t capitalize on this. Making matters worse, the ending is bull rushed into.  Watching Snow White transform from “clueless person who can’t survive in the woods by herself,” to “warrior princess,” in a span of five minutes is not even remotely believable.  Snow White who has had almost no combat training, no military experience, and no magical ability is now set to bring down a powerful sorceress Queen… really?

The final battle is poorly executed.  Despite the fact that plot wise what’s happening on the screen doesn’t make any sort of logical sense, the fighting doesn’t feel threatening to the major characters in anyway and combat scenes are just plain boring.  The beginning of this film showed promise, but the middle and end completely fall apart.  Snow White and the Huntsman does not do justice to the classic fairytale, it doesn’t even do justice to fantasy action films.

Score: 4.9

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