Wednesday, June 6, 2012
This fairy tale film follows the basic plot points of the Grimm's Brothers' classic tale while preserving and even deepening the dark tone and fleshing out the flat, stock characters. These efforts vary in level of success, so I will start with the aspects I felt were successful. The original tale is already pretty dark by itself with the evil queen wanting to cannibalize Snow White, but the film pushes the boundaries even more than I expected. The Evil Queen is the most evil and sadistic than I have ever seen in a fairy tale film. She gleefully sucks the youth and beauty out of random townspeople to fuel her magic and keep herself looking flawless. Her ability to kill with a touch and create construct soldiers make of glass and rock give a sense of real danger to the tale. It doesn't come as a surprise that a large group of women gather their daughters to live in a town far away and scar their faces to avoid the queen's attention and need to destroy beauty. For a PG-13 fairy tale film, I was very impressed that the dark tone of the Grimm tale was preserved and even made darker than their version of the tale.
Everything visual about the film was amazing. The setting and the special effects were phenomenal, especially the glass/metal constructs the queen makes. The CGI or makeup (I'm not sure which) that was used to age Charlize Theron's face was incredibly realistic. She went from young to old throughout the film in varying degrees in relation to how much magic she used and how many people she drained of youth and health. My favorite visual aspect was the costumes. Ravenna had about as many costume changes as Lady Gaga as she had different dress for almost every scene. The inclusion of bones was genius on her clothing as well as her metal claws and spiky crowns. There is no denying that this is a really pretty film.
I loved the Evil Queen, Ravenna. Instead of a mindlessly evil, two dimensional character, we got a deliciously evil queen with a tragic past and awesome magical powers. She vehemently hates men because in her experience they use and discard women when they are no longer useful or beautiful. This mentality creates her obsession to stay young and beautiful to keep her powers. Ravenna is by far the most interesting and magnetic character in the film. I can't help but feel some sympathy for her even as she eats raven organs and sucks the youth and health from people while sadistically looking into their eyes as she does it. I wish the whole film would have been about her her life from penniless orphan leading up to becoming the evil sorceress queen that conquers kingdom after kingdom. Charlize Theron did an excellent job capturing Ravenna's wide range of emotion and making her the most memorable character in this retelling.
The two things that really brought the film down for me were Kristen Stewart and the masses of unnecessary background characters. Kirsten Stewart's version of acting is grabbing her hair, sighing, hyperventilating, and leaving her mouth vacantly open for about 90% of the film. She has about 3 facial expressions and acts just as she does in Twilight and, from what I have seen, as she does in real life. Her character is only slightly better than Bella because the writing behind the film is better.The only nice thing I can say is that her natural hazel eye color looks much better than the brown contacts she had to wear in the Twilight films. In addition to a main character I cared literally nothing for, there were way too many minor characters. The Huntsman was fine and necessary, but Christ Hemsworth is a good actor and he was given very little to do. Snow's childhood friend Will was not needed at all. The love triangle had barely any actual romance and the two male characters could have been made into one. The dwarves were pretty useless as well, although generally enjoyable. They just seemed to eat up screen time while Snow meandered about until the final battle. The film needed a lot of streamlining both in the plot and in the characters.
Overall, I would say Snow White and the Huntsman is an enjoyable summer movie. It's definitely not perfect and could have used a lot of improvement, but it's a small step in the right direction for fairy tale films. If nothing else, go see if for Charlize Theron, the dark tone, and the beautiful visuals.
My rating: 7/10 fishmuffins