Sunday, June 3, 2012

Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

For some reason, Snow White is everywhere in the popular culture. There was a comedy movie earlier in the year called Mirror, Mirror which by all accounts was pretty terrible. There's a fairly popular tv series, Once Upon a Time. There was even supposedly a martial arts version of it slated for release later this year, but it got scrapped. This can probably be attributed to people finally figuring out that you can make a billion dollars aiming fantasy fiction at women (which might be the one lasting good thing that Twilight did).

As for the plot of this one, it essentially reads like all the big moments that everyone knows from the Snow White story (or rather, the Disney version that everyone remembers) reimagined as a somewhat lackluster episode of Game of Thrones. And while I can't really dislike it, it's unremarkable and average enough that I can't think of a hell of a lot to say about it.

If there's a reason to see this movie, it's the striking visual design. The film is full of unique and interesting interpretations of fairy tale concepts. The stuff you've seen in the trailers is nice, but it really hits it's stride towards the middle and end. In particular are some really unique monsters the villain summons in the later scenes and a nice sequence towards the middle. Combined with some okay fight scenes and good cinematography and music, and there's a lot of good on the technical side of this film.

The acting is mixed. Charlize Theron as the Queen is the big standout, as she's always at her best in a villain or at least villain-esque role. She spends most of the movie hanging around her castle roaring and shrieking at her foot soldiers. She also has the most interest of any of the characters, with a nifty backstory that ties heavily into the broader symbolism of the Snow White legend. Kristen Stewart does alright, but she essentially lacks a proper character. The Dwarves are pretty good (played by an EMBARASSING number of famous character actors) but the movie can't find a whole lot for them to do. The Prince and the Huntsman are okay but...oh yeah, the Prince is in this. No really. I know he's not been in the advertising much. Or at all. He actually technically shows up before the Huntsman and has a more interesting character. I think the Huntsman got shoved to the front because he's played by Thor.

That's really one of the larger issues of this film: You can read far too much where it's getting it's inspirations. A lot of the cinematography techniques are straight out of the Lord of the Rings, there's a hacky love triangle right out of the Twilight movies, the visual scheme is right out of Game of Thrones, the Prince mostly hangs around acting like Robin Hood, the middle 3rd is pretty much straight out of Princess Mononoke. None of it's exactly deal breaking, but it does get bothersome eventually.

The movie has other issues, like a weak screenplay and mostly boring characters, which keep me from recommending it outright. It's probably better than a lot of other female targeted fantasy movies, like Twilight or Red Riding Hood which means they might be getting how to make these movies better, but that's far from saying it's good. Unless you're really into this kind of movie, you can probably ignore it.

Elessar is a 22 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he always finds it annoying how lead characters in fantasy movies never put on helmets.


  1. As a costuming point, I haven't seen the film but noticed that the lead actress wears gender neutral armor. Seriously the only thing stranger than leads never wearing helmets is lead females never wearing a cuiras or adequate body armor.

  2. "...because he is played by Thor", that made me chuckle right there :D. Typical example of how pop-culture relies on hypes instead of art.

    But that's beside the point. I just stumbled across your blog while reading some comments on MOVIEBOB. Your review was pretty good. I'll be visiting more often.

    And I probably wont see Snow White, partially because I'm a man, but also because it just seems like a bad movie overall.