Snow White & the Huntsman (2012)

Posted by Maria Mills | Posted on 7:46 PM | Posted in


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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 4.8/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 5/10

SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSMAN (2012) - Rupert Sanders

The mesmerizing Charlize Theron, aided by a striking dress and dazzling design, paces towards the golden Magic Mirror. Her beauty, as actress and as fictional queen, lights up the chamber like the very particles of air. With a slow ease, she enunciates, "Mirror mirror on the wall. Who is fairest of them all?" The Mirror squeezes its interiors into a golden liquid, oozing down the stairs and rising up to meet the ravishing female. In a stance of cloaked gold, the Mirror speaks, "You are the fairest. But there is one named Kristen Stewart destined to surpass you."

Now either the Mirror is blinded by horrific perception or the filmmakers of Snow White & the Huntsman are trying to be offensive pranksters, to say that Kristen Stewart is prettier than Charlize Theron.

Snow White & the Huntsman begins by narrating Snow White's (Kristen Stewart) past and how the evil queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) came to power. Fifteen years in holding the young girl captive, Ravenna senses that her power is waning, the source being Snow White, claimed by the Mirror as both the Queen's ruin and salvation. Soon enough, the princess escapes and finds herself chased into the Dark Forest, where the Queen's men lose her trail. Powerless in the Dark Forest, Ravenna orders the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to lead her men into the Forest to pursue Snow White. However, things turn around when the Huntsman helps Snow White escape and assists her in leading a rebellious army against the Queen and her ruined kingdom.

On a technical basis, Snow White & the Huntsman is gorgeous and haunting to look at. As if directed by Tim Burton himself, the film's appearance is efficiently enhanced by crisp lighting, memorable cinematography, stirring visuals, weighty costumes, realistic makeup, and monumental set designs. In simple words, the film bears everything that a good movie needs. Although the musical atmosphere of the film barely takes flight (Better luck next time, James Newton Howard), the conceptual designs of creatures and magic can intrigue the eyes enough. Despite the original fairy tale being cheerful and merry for the children, Snow White & the Huntsman offers a unique dark take on it, and it works too. However, I would stress that the dark factor of this film does not feel like Tim Burton (Beetlejuice), but more like Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth). The creatures are both beautiful and grotesque, marvelous yet familiar at times. In spite of the monsters bearing strong resemblance to creatures in Pan's Labyrinth and even Princess Mononoke, they are placed in great sceneries, loaded with vividly imaginative images to please the visual lovers. In summary, Snow White & the Huntsman might just be another contender for the next Academy Award of Art Direction.

Nevertheless, even though the film looks great, it struggles severely in covering up the weaknesses of its narrative, characters, and direction. Plot-wise, it is aesthetic to learn how the Queen came to be, but in summary, the story is over complicated, stuck in mud from beginning to end. Its narrative never rose and never fell, just one continuous flat line with no intensity nor momentum, one event after another. It lacks rhythm, transition, and elegance. The "magic" of the film's storytelling is not as lively as the visual tricks it plays. It begins with thoughtful plot devices, but Sanders unfortunately does not know how to execute with them. The film is filled with inventiveness and creativity, but it is clumped together into a junkyard mess. If you want to start boldly, you have to finish boldly. Even worse, the plot of Snow White & the Huntsman misleads. With Theron's surprising overacting, the film is almost suggesting for us to sympathize her. Her cries of hate and her desperate need of Snow White's heart are expressed in a disproportionate fashion, hyperbolic in their own way, losing the intimidating impression of a female tyrant. With several implications and tie-ins between the Queen and Snow White that never get fully explained, the story of Snow White & the Huntsman is anything but simplistic.

Theron is a talented actress, but troubled by a weak script and unskillful direction, not even she can fully flesh out the oppressive aspects of the Queen. As for Hemsworth, his blend of naturalism still convinces the audience for his character, but his familiar dialogue gives his axe-swinging stance a resemblance to the hammer-swinging god of thunder Thor. The huntsman is a unique figure, an unconventional character that we follow. But here, when the film has a chance to augment someone new, it instead drags itself with under-development, eventually causing the Huntsman's personality to become misinterpreted, confusing, and sometimes even illogical. Now for the classic miscasting: Kristen Stewart.

I already mentioned how laughable it is that Kristen Stewart is the fairest one of all, even fairer than Charlize Theron. Not surprising at all, Stewart still could not get out of Twilight-mode, in which she has only one expression throughout the entire film. The more ludicrous element here is that Stewart plays Snow White, known as "The Chosen One," the one who is destined to end the darkness and rid the world of the wretched Queen. With Stewart's dull acting, Snow White & the Huntsman tells the audience that she is the most valuable figure in the film's universe without showing us why or how. We all know Snow White is an exquisite princess in which life sparks in her presence. Here, there is nothing exquisite about Kristen Stewart's Snow White. In fact, there is no Snow White in this movie, the red apple lost significance, and the seven dwarves have no purpose, which makes me question what kind of audience this film was aiming for from the very beginning. From the words of Leonard Maltin: "Is it a date movie? I don't think so. It's really not for children, either, unless they happen to be members of the Addams Family." With no substance and a tedious middle act, Snow White & the Huntsman ranks as one of the few films where I felt the desire to walk out of the theater. Worse, the tone of the film almost demands my attention without being fully aware of its own boredom.

This is Rupert Sanders' first film, a debut from a director known for making television commercials. As a debut, Snow White & the Huntsman still has its cinematic value. Like Ebert's words, the movie "reinvents the legendary story in a film of astonishing beauty and imagination." However, at the same time, the film exposes flaws so clearly that it delivers the message to the audience that this is indeed a director's debut. With a mystifying script, puzzling content, and a lead actress who does not even act as if she belongs in the medieval world, Snow White & the Huntsman is heavily flawed in its substance even when it leaves a sensational impression.

In conclusion, Snow White & the Huntsman is a middling fantasy. It is fully equipped with graceful visuals, one of the most good-looking films of 2012. For the audience members craving for a good live action adaptation, this is as good as it can get visually. Storytelling wise, this is plain unacceptable. The slow and boring narrative is one of several elements that sucks the life out of this piece with so much potential. As a debut, Snow White & the Huntsman reveals clear evidence that Rupert Sanders is still a novice in the filmmaking industry, but it comes forth with so much creative power and high-budget effects that it may pass by certain people's attention. Like Travers' words: "[Snow White & the Huntsman is] definitely a missed opportunity. Director Rupert Sanders loses his nerve just when the story starts cooking." Then again, there is enough eye candy to quench the thirst of the less-demanding filmgoers. But there is one thing about Snow White & the Huntsman that is undeniable: Kristen Stewart is not and never will be fairer than Charlize Theron.


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