Monday, September 17, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman

This is a story that on the surface everyone knows. As a young girl, Snow White (Kristen Stewart) lost her mother and her father, the King, was devastated. Shortly after her mother's death, the King met a beautiful and alluring damsel in distress. This damsel, Ravenna (Charlize Theron), proved to be more cunning than anyone expected when she murdered the King on their wedding night. Snow is sentenced to a life in the dungeon and Ravenna rules the kingdom with an iron fist. Snow White escapes and the queen sends a huntsman (Chris Hemsworth)  into the dark woods to retrieve the young girl.

From the looks of the trailer, Snow White and the Huntsman was sure to a fantastical, action-packed modern-interpretation of a well loved fairy tale. And as is often the case with these things, the trailer promised a lot more than the movie could deliver. It is titled Snow White and the Huntsman but a more apt title might have been The Evil Queen feat. Snow White. Charlize Theron is deliciously evil in this dark fairy tale. She radiates power in every frame and it doesn't hurt that she looks absolutely stunning at the same time. In the story, she may have had to worry that Snow White was the fairest in the land but everyone watching is wondering why. Theron--even as an old crone--possessed a quality of elegance that Stewart never seems to come close to matching.
The pacing of this movie felt slow and discontented. A lot of time was allotted to development of the evil queen's character--her rise to power and her struggle to kill Snow White--but Snow White and the Huntsman received surprisingly less screen time than one would assume in a movie named after the pair. The second half of the film was rushed--Snow White's revival, an epic battle, and Snow White's coronation in half an hour to make up for the slow pacing earlier in the film. This film also suffered from overcrowding. The Queen was given a brother, the prince a father, there were eight dwarves instead of seven, and a whole slew of other characters were thrown in for good measure. It's confusing and with every character vying for screen time it is hard to create a connection with anyone--much less remember their names. The dwarves were all played by brilliant British actors--it's a shame that none of them got to show off what they could do.

Visually, the film was fantastic. The special effects were breathtaking and impressive. But expensive special effects and Charlize Theron's performance can't overcome a poorly paced, poorly written film with inconsistent actors. Kristen Stewart tries her best--even giving us a British accent that was some what believable--but she doesn't wear damsel in distress very well. She doesn't really wear lovestruck teenager living in Forks, Washington very well but what do I know? I'm not a casting director.

This film takes a few twists from the traditional Snow White story that we all know and love. But other than the expansion of the roles of the Huntsman and the Evil Queen, many of these changes hurt the film rather than help it. I must admit that I watched this for the first time after the Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders cheating scandal erupted. I tried not to let that influence my opinion [to be honest I've never been a big fan of Kristen Stewart's work] but at least I don't feel guilty for enjoying the film that broke up Robsten.

I gave this movie two stars becausein my humble opinion there were only two stars in this film--Ms. Theron and the special effects team. I'll be the first one to admit that it's hard to recreate a classic and make it better. The screenwriters and director were a bit too ambitious--there was too much story to be told in two hours.

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