What a frustrating experience that was. Snow White & The Huntsman is one of those few rare films that does so many things well, but at the end, makes you feel disappointed and somewhat displeased by it all. Sometimes you don’t know what it is, but then in instances like this, you know right away, that it’s going to be a long movie.
Snow White & The Huntsman, under the work of first time director (you can tell…) Rupert Sanders, brings audiences a new and completely different adaptation of the fairy tale classic Snow White. Now, most of us grew up under the classic story introduced to us by the Walt Disney, but let’s just say, if Walt Disney’s audiences were watching this one, many would have nightmares. Yes, more for the Brothers Grimm than the eight year-old child, this is a dark, violent and vicious retelling that provides plenty of different elements from dark magic, murder/death, battles and some pretty awesome milky looking material. Nonetheless, this isn’t your typical princess locked away type story. Ravenna (Charlize Theron) plots into putting herself as the next Queen as the King’s wife just recently died and his heart ached for love and beauty. But as her deceptions succeeded, the kingdom that once reigned peacefully now is fulfilled with darkness and sorrow. As she locks Snow White (Kristen Stewart) for years, the young princess takes advantage of an opportunity to escape, and now, as the Queen needs her heart to be young forever, she runs into the Dark Woods where the Huntsman goes and tries to find her and bring her back.
There’s much more to the plot as we are introduced to many different characters from Prince William (your usual Prince Charming), the dwarfs, a real big elk and lots of other elements and individuals that had absolutely no specific purpose or proper structuring. My lack of willingness to share and emphasize the plot only reflects the same attitudes the film had on its own characters and plot. Visually, this film is top notch. From the set pieces, the art direction, costumes, etc. all these different but very important pieces are definitely Oscar worthy. The actors look great, the castles, forests, wild creatures, everything is done so well, it’s unfortunate that the one thing that they really didn’t work much on was the development of the story.
If you’re going to create something grand in terms of visual stimulation, the greatest thing to know in that aspect, specifically film, is that the image is significantly magnified when we can attach our emotions and feelings to the character, to the atmosphere, to what’s going on in the image. Making a film with great visuals is only half of the work. such strong physical presence doesn’t entitle you to a great film. Heck, it isn’t even rewarded good film status. We, as the audience, must mentally invest ourselves into the plot, the development and especially the characters, or else, no matter what is introduced on screen is nothing more than eye candy. And this is the biggest issue I have with Snow White.
Everything that you learn or suppose to learn about editing and pacing is all surrounded on the idea that these characters are developed. Their personalities, characteristics, historic background, all this, is suppose to be the priority. But all of this has taken a back seat so instead, we get lots of action (nothing groundbreaking) and discombobulated conversations. Nothing flows in this film. The first 2o minutes felt more like a really expensive Madonna music video than a major motion picture. Though the characters do everything possible to save this from absolutely discontent, we still have a pretty large separation between being introduced to the characters to actually knowing them.
For instance, Ravenna, the evil Queen, is motivated by a very intriguing idea or theme. The fact that we see a glimpse of her background on why beauty is so important to her, was very refreshing and exciting. But unfortunately, we only see, like I said, a glimpse of this and go back to just listening to her scream and yell. To her credit though, Theron plays a monstrous evil Queen and she really does a phenomenal job in filling in those dark and villainous shoes. The Huntsman, played by Chris Hemsworth (Thor), speaks of his long lost wife and how deep his pains and sorrows are, but though he speaks of these emotions, we never see them. They expected the actors to connect the audience with their horrible past, but when all we get are very developed facial expressions, well, not much will come out of it. And though the title of the film would most likely ensure you that Kristen Stewart is put on the podium here, she rarely gets to shine, let alone speak. Either she truly was horrendous and awful that the editors just had to limit her presence, or the script never fully presents Snow White as it should.
It’s very unfortunate considering there were a lot of great elements from the visuals, but also to the dwarfs that were great and brought a humorous quality that was rarely seen. From pretty legitimate actors including Ian McShane, Ray Winstone and Toby Jones, this was a group that could’ve been pretty legendary, but yet again, mishandled and underwritten. It just adds to the notion that there was a great film in here. This film could’ve been spectacular and exhilarating. But instead, we just got the less-fun version.
Snow White & The Huntsman gets 2 1/2 stars (out of 5).