Sunday, June 3, 2012

Movie Review: "Snow White and the Huntsman" (2012)

Saw Snow White and the Huntsman with my friends Will and Carol yesterday.  Here's my review.  Keeping it spoiler-free this time.

The Good

*The film's creators have expanded the film and provided explanations for a lot of the stuff from the fairy tale.  Snow White's parents are actually on-screen and do things, while there is a back-story for evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) that is actually somewhat sympathetic.  Just how Ravenna seduces the king is clever, while the addition of the character Finn (Sam Spruell), the queen's brother and general, explains just *how* Ravenna was able to sideline Snow White, the legitimate heir after the death of her parents.

*Snow White (Kristen Stewart) is much more active than the woman of the fairy tales.  For starters, she takes the initiative in escaping rather than being the mere victim of the Disney film.  And although she retains the kindness and compassion of the original, she shows strength and even fierceness in many places. 

*Both the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) and William (Sam Clafin), the closest thing to the Prince Charming of the stories, were fairly interesting and elaborate characters.  The two-scene Huntsman of the Disney film has a back-story and an actual personality, while the more-subdued William does a whole lot of cool archer-tricks.  William has been criticized by many reviewers, but I liked him, especially just *how* he sets off to find Snow White.

*There were a lot of interesting visuals, including the Terminator 2-esque Magic Mirror, the nightmare-fuel acid trip Dark Forest that puts the "scary grabby trees" of the animated movie to shame, a village of women who have scarred themselves to avoid arousing the ire of the queen, and a confrontation with a predatory troll.  The troll's introduction was particularly ominous.

*Although rarely does one combine "fight scenes" and "Snow White," there were some good battles.  The fight between the Huntsman and the troll reminded me of the battle between the Hulk and Emil Blonsky (after the initial gamma treatments but before he turns into the Abomination) in The Incredible Hulk.  William takes names a whole lot.  And the duel between Finn and the Huntsman shows just how dangerous Finn actually is.

*There was a good bit of humor in the film, including the Huntsman's introduction and when one of the dwarfs takes a shine to Snow White.

*I liked the inclusion of Christianity into the film.  It's not preachy or in-your-ace, but it does acknowledge the role of religion, especially in a medieval-ish culture.

*And finally, "Breath of Life," the song Florence and the Machine devised for the credits, is awesome.  It's album-only if you search for the soundtrack, but the single is available from iTunes here.  The song is on YouTube, apparently posted there by the filmmakers to promote the movie, so you can see just how cool it is.

The Bad

*Although Kristen Stewart isn't as bad in the role as she has been accused of being, she wasn't as great as some of the film's fans have said either.  Most of the time she was fine, but what was supposed to be a climactic speech really fell flat.

*Charlize Theron isn't nearly as impressive as many of the reviews made her out to be, especially when she goes into harpy mode.

*When Snow White escapes from captivity, she's wearing pants under her dress.  There really is no reason why her captors would provide her pants.  It would have been better if the Huntsman, thinking her royal fancy dress is slowing their escape down, makes her change clothes.  Perhaps the pants could have belonged to the Huntsman's late wife, which would provide more substance to the relationship between the two characters.

*The triangle between Snow White, William, and the Huntsman needs more substance.  There are explanations for why each of the men likes her, but we don't really see much of her feelings for either of them.  She could be torn between the Huntsman's wildness and bad boy attitude and William's obvious devotion, their shared history, and the fact he would make a *much* better husband for political reasons, for example.

*Much of the middle portion of the movie is slow.  Yes, there are interesting concepts and visuals, but to paraphrase Scripture, interesting concepts and visuals were made for the film, not the film for interesting concepts and visuals.

*Although it's clear this world is a Christian culture, the fact the queen overtly practices black magic does not appear to have roused any particular religious opposition.  There's a scene early on where the queen confronts two captured rebels.  If one of them calls her a witch or accuses of her of being in league with the Devil, that would have been a good touch.

The Verdict

An interesting concept that wasn't as good as it could have been.  6.5 out of 10.


  1. I enjoyed this one, but I will admit it has it’s problems here and there. I mean really, who would choose K-Stew over Char Ther?!? Think about it.... Nothing too terrible though. Good review.

  2. I think it has to do with "inner beauty" as much as looks.

    (The scene between SW and her mother with the bird, for example.)

    SW is a much kinder, more pleasant person than Ravenna.

  3. Thank you for the review! Most of the reviews have been raving Charlize's performance, while bashing Kristen's performance. I wholeheartedly agree with your take more on their performances, as well as the rest of your points.