Review – Snow White and the Huntsman

I’m starting to think I may not really cut out for reviews; at the end of the day, I think I’m just too lenient. I’ve seen all the scathing reviews of Prometheus raging on gaping plot holes, shitty acting, lazy storywriting, and I know those issues where there, but I still enjoyed it, and recommended that people go see it. Maybe I need to look at something a little more cerebral that Ridley Scott’s latest headfuckery.

Something simple. Something flashy.

Ho boy.

And you know what? Actually pretty good.

When I saw the trailers for this, my thought process was thus ;  “Oh, another Snow White film? That’s kinda odd, we just had Mirror Mirror and that looked like it sucked fat turds. Ooo, these fight scenes look pretty cool. Sweet, Charlize Theron is a fucking warlock and getting 12A-rated nekkid! Oh, Bella and Thor are in it? Well, Hemsworth is okay, not sure about Kristin. Eh, maybe I’ll give it a go if I’ve got nothing better to do.”

You know how much there is to do on a rainy Tuesday afternoon in a small town in West Sussex? No time to answer that, I’ve got to go see Snow White and the Huntsman!

A plot synopsis of the story of Snow White for those reading who never had a childhood; long long ago, in a kindom far far away, there’s a girl called Snow White, and she’s hot. Her evil stepmother, the queen, is also hot, but not quite as hot as Snow White, and she’s all like “That skank! I’m going to kill the shit out of her, then I’ll be hottest!” But Snow White escapes into the forest and moves in with a bunch of short, bearded day labourers.

WHORE.

Later, the queen finds out where SW’s hiding, assumes the form of an old lady, poison apple, enchanted sleep, true love’s first kiss, blah blah blah.

Snow White and the Huntsman is not really like the Disney version at all. If anything, it’s probably a little closer to the original Grimms  version… with a few exceptions. Namely, the climax at the film where SW suits up like a paladin from WoW, leads a rebellion, and fights a sorceress.

So it’s clear from the trailer and the poster above that this a gritty, GRIMDARK retelling of the Snow White story. There’s a few halfhearted attempts at a romantic love-triangle subplot with SW, her childhood friend (who is essentially a more masculine Legolas), and the huntsman, but it falls short, and I’m not sure if it was meant to be intentional or not. Hemsworth’s character definitely warms towards SW throughout the film, becoming more protective of her as she starts to remind him of his dead wife, but it never really feels as if its reciprocated. William, SW’s childhood friend, clearly has some kind of hots for her, but nothing seems to come of it. I never got the feeling that SW was manipulating or misleading these two characters in any way – she seemed way more interested in restoring life to the kingdom and overthrowing the queen – but the unpleasant similarity to Kristin’s cockteasing of Edward and Jacob as Bella in the Twilight series is difficult to ignore.

Actually, I’d argue that SW isn’t actually the main character of the story. She’s more of a walking plot device that an actual character. The queen and the huntsman actually get a lot more depth, and, okay, they’re not exactly complicated characters, but it was refreshing to have them be more than “guy who looks for Snow White” and “vain evil harpy”. I actually found the queen to be fairly interesting as a villain, even a little bit tragic and sympathetic. She’s distraught when her creepy brother gets killed, she’s been mistreated and abused by men in positions of authority, and she’s clearly a crazed addict with a genuine fear of becoming old and ugly; there’s one scene when we open on the queen in her chambers, and there are dozens of dead women lying around from where the queen has sucked their souls out in a frenzied binge to maintain her beauty and her power. I also really liked Hemsworth in this film, as he continues his fine tradition of portraying a grumpy, rugged badass who’s very good at hitting people.

This was a film full of little details and interesting scenes that I really liked. For example, the queen’s mirror takes the form of a big cloaked dude made out of molten gold, but it’s very strongly implied that only the queen can see and hear what the mirror says; her creepy brother walks in and sees the queen talking to herself, hinting that there definitely something isn’t right upstairs (the queen and her brother also have a squicky incest vibe to them).

The dark forest that SW escapes to has a wonderfully malevolent Silent Hill-like feel to it during the moments when she trips out on evil hallucinogenic mushroom spores. SW and the huntsman find a village where all the womenfolk deliberately scar themselves so that they won’t be sacrificed to the beauty-obsessed queen. And the final climatic fight against the queen and her nightmare-fuel shard-creatures is pretty awesome.

The quibbles;  the underlying plot that implied that the queen and SW are essentially personifications of entropy (the queen) and life (Snow White). I was okay with the queen being this parasitic, toxic influence on the kingdom, in that she drained all life from everything, but having SW being told by a magical stag (in a scene that could be ripped straight from Princess Mononoke) that she is the Super Special Snowflake Champion of Destiny, Rainbows and Sunshine seemed lazy to me, but then again I’m never fond of “you are destined to destroy X” plot lines, as to me it removes all sense of dramatic tension. Also, again, Kristin’s character being told that’s she’s the most important person ever reeks so strongly of Bella in Twilight. Goddamn Twilight, you ruined vampires and werewolves, don’t taint Kristin Stewart’s career too!

Oh, and the dwarves – who are actually wonderfully cast (Nick Frost, Ray Winstone, Bob Hoskins, motherfucking Ian McShane) are barely in the film at all, and receive almost zero characterisation, which is a shame, because when you think “Snow White”, you then immediately think “and the seven dwarves”, and the little guys are poorly represented in this film.

And trust me, you don’t want to upset a dwarf.

In conclusion, Bella and Thor vs. Sexy Warlock Queen is certainly decent and enjoyable, and worth a watch if you like GRIMDARK fantasy hacky-slashy, but ultimately very, very average.

Tzaph

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