There’s a reason I try not to go into a film with any sort of expectation, and Snow White and the Huntsman is the perfect example of why. I went into this film prepared to see a more Gladiator/Braveheart-esque Snow White tale, with the heroic Huntsman by her side protecting her from a memorable – and maybe even definitive – version of the evil Queen, played by Charlize Theron. What I ended up seeing was a forgettable, disjointed movie that lacked any and all character.
The story basically sees the evil Queen Ravenna (Theron) in a constant struggle to stay young and beautiful so that she can continue to rule the land she claimed after wedding the King (Snow White’s father) and killing him on their wedding night. Don’t worry; Snow White’s mother has died by this point, which is mentioned during this narrative that is given by the Huntsman at the start of the film to fill us in on the backstory.
With only a few soldiers making it out of the kingdom the night Ravenna took over, nobody was left to protect those inside, and Snow White (thought dead by those on the outside) was locked up in a tower, where she could grow up, for unknown reasons. So the years pass and the Queen remains young and powerful by draining the youth out of the young, beautiful women in the kingdom and villages around her.
The problem is, one day when she asks the mirror on the wall who the fairest is, it tells her that Snow White has come of age, and is now not only the prettiest, but also the only one who can destroy her. He does give the Queen some good news, however, telling her that if she eats Snow White’s heart, she’ll be immortal once and for all. See, every cloud has a silver lining.
Unfortunately for her, Snow White escapes and runs off into the dark forest, where the Queen’s powers don’t work. For this reason she’s forced to find someone who has survived the dark forest to hunt her down, and that person is the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth). Of course, the Huntsman is a good-hearted man, and can’t find it in himself to hand the girl over to the Queen, so together he and Snow White must figure out a way to rid the land of evil once and for all. See, that last bit made it sound kind of interesting, didn’t it? Unfortunately the delivery on screen doesn’t come close to resembling anything interesting.
The main problem is that the entire description above drags on for quite some time in the film, and the remaining two acts drag on even more. It’s been a long while since I’ve been to a movie where I was so constantly aware of how plodding the story was, but this two-hour film felt at times like it was never going to end.
Another major issue is that there is absolutely no emotional connection to any character in the film at any point. This is a movie where we should hate the evil Queen, be cheering for Snow White, and be inspired by the Huntsman, who puts himself in harms way to protect her. Instead, there’s nothing. Snow White is utterly forgettable, both in part to her character lacking any true definition and due to the fact that Kristen Stewart was miscast in the role. And this isn’t an anti-Twilight attack, as I’ve not seen those movies, so I have no reason to pre-judge her. In fact, I thought she might be able to pull off the part in the promotional posters I’d seen; however, in the end, she lacks the charisma to make Snow White the beacon of hope that she needed to be to counter the Queen’s darkness.
The Huntsman is a cool character, and the idea of using him as a bodyguard for Snow White gave this movie an epic feeling during its promotional stage. Of course, like everything else in the film, his character – which at first seemed to have the most coherent, solid story – quickly falls in line with everyone else, and becomes just another pawn in the game of cliché moviemaking that is this film. Don’t even get me started on how, for no apparent reason while they’re walking he turns around and teaches Snow White how to block an attacker and deliver a kill blow shot with a knife. It’s so blatantly obvious how this information will be used that it’s mind numbing.
And while they aren’t highlighted this time around, there are dwarves in the film. Unfortunately, for some inane reason, someone felt it would be better to get actors who weren’t little people to begin with to play the part of dwarves and just shrink them down awkwardly with effects later. It’s so distracting to see these actors (such as Bob Hoskins, Nick Frost and Ian McShane) playing these parts that I couldn’t take them seriously. There are so many talented little people out there who could have played these parts and done them justice. It simply makes no sense to me why this was done.
On the evil side of things, Theron’s Queen seemed like it could have been the ultimate version of the character, but instead Ravenna is as disjointed as the rest of the film. Other than screaming in her chamber about how everyone always lets her down, her character doesn’t actually do much. Theron does what she can with what she’s given, but what she’s given isn’t much, and despite some great visuals and costumes, the Queen comes off as a weak and boring character, and a huge missed opportunity.
Of course, not all was bad in the film. There are some great visuals to be had at certain points, and it’s easy to see that this is a world that could have been used to create an epic fantasy fairy tale, but instead went to waste with a bland story that drags on to the point of banality so much so that we eventually stop wanting to see new visuals, beautiful as they may be, and just want to see it all come to an end.
Snow White and the Huntsman is likely the biggest disappointment for me so far this year. While I want to partially blame myself for the expectations I had going in, I can’t help but know deep down that this epic tale could have been done right and just wasn’t. It’s quite ironic that the entire story revolves around the Queen wanting to get Snow White’s heart, when in reality, that’s the main thing that this film truly lacks.
Director: John Gulager Writers: Evan Daugherty and John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini Notable Cast: Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Stewart
Brendan Campbell was here when Inside Pulse Movies began, and he’ll be here when it finishes - in 2012, when a cataclysmic event wipes out the servers, as well as everyone else on the planet other than John Cusack and those close to him. Brendan’s the #1 supporter of Keanu Reeves, a huge fan of popcorn flicks and a firm believer that sheer entertainment can take a film a long way. He currently resides in Canada, where, for reasons stated above, he’s attempting to get closer to John Cusack.
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