Saturday, October 27, 2012

"Snow White and the Huntsman" (2012) -- Initial Thoughts

Fortunately, I didn't have a lot of hopes for this movie.  Which means I wasn't terribly disappointed by it, which I would have been if I'd been expecting it to be good.  Um, yeah.  I'm usually the Happy Movie Watcher, right?  I like nearly everything.  And I'm not saying I hated this movie, because I didn't.  I just thought it was terribly flawed.  And I'm reeeeeeeeeeally glad I decided to re-see The Avengers in the theater instead of seeing this, as I would have come out pretty angry with myself if I'd decided the other way around.

So what went wrong with this movie?  A lot of things, though I need to make very clear that Chris Hemsworth is not one of them.  I'll talk more about him in a minute.  A lot more, I'm sure.  But let's start with the plot.  Got your basic Snow White thing at the core, with her daddy, the king, remarrying and then dying.  The new queen, Ravenna (Charlize Theron) imprisons Snow White (Kristen Stewart) then and there, and the little girl grows up into a young woman.  While imprisoned, Snow White somehow learned to swim, ride a horse, and develop the stamina to run up a LOT of stairs while wearing a suit of armor -- how is beyond me.  This plot has logic problems, as you can see.  The story also sort of lurched from one Event to the next, with few smooth transitions and sometimes no seeming reason.  Here is where we go next, don't ask why.  This could be because it has three screenwriters, and it felt a lot like there was one who was a bit Lord of the Rings fan, one who was a big Avatar (2009) fan, and one who loved little '80s fantasy movies like Willow (1988) and LadyHawke (1985) and Legend (1985) and kept wanting to throw references to those in.  And someone involved may be a big fan of hallucinogenic drugs, both as plot points and as inspiration for the look of several of the scenes and locations.

So, you've got this hodge-podge of a plot that doesn't always make sense AND a weird mix of looks for different scenes.  That's mostly what I didn't like about the movie, so let's move on to what I liked okay (or a lot):  the cast/characters.

There are three characters who are Really Important:  Snow White, Ravenna (aka The Evil Queen), and The Huntsman.  I'll save the best for last ;-)  Kristen Stewart plays Snow White, and since I'm not a Twihard, I've never seen her in anything other than a magazine before.  I was pleasantly surprised -- she didn't annoy me!  She didn't interest me much, either, but at least I wasn't annoyed.  Not even by the fact that her main facial expression seems to convey nothing so much as severe intestinal distress.

As you can tell by the armor, there comes a point when Snow White goes to war.  I really appreciated that she didn't turn out to be this magically wonderful warrior chick.  She's not a Shield Maiden of Rohan, after all, she's an orphan who's been locked in a castle tower for at least a decade.  The Huntsman did give her a 30-second lesson on how to stab someone up close, but she doesn't get a training montage where someone explains the finer points of swordplay.  So when she gets into a battle, she kind of just runs away whenever possible, smacks a few people with her shield or sword in a haphazard way, and generally manages about as well as I probably would have.  That was nicely done, I thought.

So anyway, then there's Charlize Theron as Ravenna.  I've seen her in a handful of things, and she strikes me as a pretty talented actress, not to mention a gutsy one.  But here, she does a lot of vamping and glowering and pouting.  And not much else.  She gets some fruitily cool costumes, though.

At one point, she takes what I think is supposed to be a milk bath (showing that she's a terrible person, cuz the people outside are starving).

I'm not sure it's a milk bath, though, because when she comes back out, it looks more like she's been dipped in glue.

Um, yeah.  Weird.

But then there's The Huntsman.  And while the mere fact that he's played by Chris Hemsworth would probably be enough to make me interested in him, it's like this character was written specifically for (or by) me.  He's sad.  He broods.  He's incredibly talented at the manly arts of brawling, riding a horse, and being dirty.  He definitely needs a hug.

There's a scene where he actually made me cry.  I was just complaining to a friend that I wanted him to do a movie where he got to show off his acting chops a bit more, and to my surprise, this turns out to be such a movie!  In fact, he puts in a performance that convinced me I wouldn't mind seeing this movie again some day.  Especially if I could just fast-forward to his scenes.

So, in the end, not a very good movie.  On the other hand, it has little gore, little bad language, no sex scenes, and that's all too rare these days. So if you don't care about things making sense and like fantasy, you'd probably dig this.


  1. I just saw this a couple nights ago. I kinda liked it, except the ending was kinda... anticlimactic and didn't really button things up. It felt like they were leading you up to some kind of choice between the huntsman and the prince, and then it just ended, without saying whether she picks either of them. I thought that was weird. Kristen Stewart didn't bug me, which usually she does, however, I thought they should have made her hair blacker, since they specifically mentioned that when the mother pricked her finger.

    I bet she could have learned how to swim / ride a horse before she was imprisoned! :)

    1. It's funny that you just saw it, because I just got it out of the library again yesterday to show to a friend next week.

      The ending was very open, setting up a possible sequel without committing to who would be in it -- and there's talk of there being a sequel focusing on The Huntsman, not Snow White, so that was probably a wise choice for them. Storywise, I thought it worked because she had more going on at that moment than figuring out who she might or might not love. Get herself settled in the kingdom and her authority established, then think about loooove.

      Swim and ride a horse, yes, you can remember those from childhood. But she seemed to be doing more than she would have learned by the age of what, eight? Maybe when I watch it again, I'll disagree with myself and agree with you.

    2. I didn't realize they might do a sequel. Well, I suppose that makes sense.

      Haha, I didn't really think about the logic of her skills vs. time spent in captivity when I watched it! So you may be right after all.

      Not sure it's a movie I'd watch again... But... I hope you enjoy your 2nd viewing!

    3. I'm rewatching it because my friend hasn't seen it, and she agrees with me that a supremely yummy Chris Hemsworth is worth slogging through a silly movie for. Once, anyway, lol.


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