Movie remakes of any sort often make me skeptical, especially when the remake follows a string of successive failures. In the case of Snow White and the Huntsman, the most recent attempt at revisiting the fairy tale proved to be unfulfilling, though the previews seemed promising. I have to admit I had reservations, as I was never a fan of the Snow White story. The animated Disney version was always my least favorite Disney princess movie (probably because I didn’t really like Snow’s hair or shrill voice), and any time it has ever been revisited, it has failed tremendously at becoming anything worth watching (most recently with Mirror, Mirror). Still, the trailer looked like this fairy tale was taking a pretty interesting turn, and becoming more of an action/adventure-style flick, rather than a dopey comedy.
Unfortunately, the final product made me sit back and question how something that had so many opportunities for success completely dropped the ball and left an unfinished mess in its wake. In all honesty, the story felt like something that should have never left the pitch room. There were a lot of unfinished edges and inconclusive results that were spawned from the lack of direction in the story and character development. To me, it was like a puzzle with no edge pieces – sure, you can still tell what the end result is supposed to look like, but there is a lack of definition and direction.
This lack of something – anything, really – to make this movie a success stems mainly from the story structure. Though the story itself doesn’t really stray from the standard fairy tale, the subplots and contextual insinuations bring an originality that is fairly refreshing. What these additions fail to do is add any sort of climax or tension; instead, fabulous ideas that could have really been a game changer are left to fester in the minds of the audience, and never receive any kind of resolution later on in the movie. There are three specific instances that I can think of where this takes place:
1. The somewhat incestuous relationship between evil queen Ravena (Charlize Theron) and her evil henchman brother Finn (Sam Spruell) was a little like the relationship between Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) and Lucilla (Connie Nielsen) in Gladiator…initially. There were teases of this questionable relationship, particularly in a scene where Finn allows Snow White to escape, and he tenderly kisses Ravena’s neck; however, this is never followed up on, and is slightly disappointing, as it makes for an interesting twist on the story.
2. The love triangle that ensues amongst Snow White (Kristen Stewart), the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), and Snow’s childhood friend William (Sam Claflin) should have been wrought with tension and anxiety over who Snow White will choose, and from whose lips the life-saving kiss will come. This was an incredibly important sub-plot line in my opinion, and nothing even remotely exciting or interesting spurred from this. I mean, come on, even the Twilight saga manages to pull tension (albeit pathetic and over-dramatized) out of the Edward-Bella-Jacob triangle.
3. The dwarves are present in the movie; however, it’s not until at least halfway into the meat of the movie. To me, this was a letdown, especially because the scenes involving the dwarves were some of the better parts of the movie.
To be quite honest, the acting was one saving grace of this movie. Chris Hemsworth shows that he can sustain a “lead” role – but should have been given more screen time. The gruff but sensitive character-type suits him, and he has decent chemistry with Kristen Stewart, however, as I mentioned, the romance in the movie was a bit lacking, and they really could have amped things up between their characters. Charlize Theron as Ravena was a bit spotty; at times, her performance was spot-on, and brought a depth to the queen that we haven’t seen before (fear, uncertainty, possible compassion); however, some of the performance was over-the-top and didn’t really do much for the character. Kristen Stewart shows that she can do something besides stand there; still she just doesn’t scream “leading lady”. As a side note, this whole “breathing is laborious” thing she has going on has to stop – it’s distracting, and not very becoming.
The costuming and special effects were additional components that made this movie far better than it would have been without those integral pieces. Ravena’s life is perpetuated by sucking the youth and beauty from other young women, and when she has not “fed” in awhile, she appears to have aged. This was both awesome and creepy at the same time; it was incredibly well-done, technically speaking, but it was also increasingly disturbing to see Theron develop wrinkles and sallow skin.
I have to say, I’m pretty sad that I have to give this movie as low of a score as I am giving it. I was incredibly looking forward to saying that this was going to be a summer blockbuster – instead, I don’t know that I would even recommend making time to see it. I feel as though I was mislead into believing that this was going to be an action-packed, intensity-fueled, tension wrought revision of a fairly simple fairy tale. Instead, I sat in my seat anxiously waiting for something to happen. Overall, I thought this movie was boring, anticlimactic, underwhelming, and snooze-worthy. My recommendation is to skip it, unless those words describe something more your speed.
Snow White and the Huntsman – 6/10