Sunday, June 3, 2012

Movie Review: "Snow White and the Huntsman" by Andy Schopp


Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
Director: Rupert Sanders
Writers: Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock, Hossein Amini
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins
Run Time: 2 hrs 7 mins

I didn't exactly know what to expect going in to this - on one hand, it looked like Lord of the Rings in its set and creature design, and on the other hand, they weren't letting reviews go up until just before the movie actually premiered, and that's not usually a good thing. The extreme mesh of possible pros and cons here were messing with my mind as I walked in the theater; what am I about to witness? Is Kristen Stewart about to show us all she can actually act at all? Is Chris Hemsworth going to channel his inner Thor and lay waste to the evil doers of this fantasy land? As it turns out, yes and no.

The movie opens up with an everyday fairy tale beginning, a queen is walking in her courtyard in the snow and pricks her finger on a rose that survived the winter, three drops of blood fall to the snowy ground and give the queen the idea she wants something that will stand out just as much. She wants a beautiful child that can become the bright red on the white snow. So she has one and names her Snow White. She has dark hair and ruby lips with skin as soft and perfect as untouched snow. When she gets older her father is lured into war with a dark unknown army and finds a woman carried as a slave. This woman becomes his queen and betrays him to steal his throne. She locks Snow White in the tower, because I believe she actually feels something for her, and leaves her there. When Snow White (Kristen Stewart) comes of age to be the most beautiful woman in the land she sees an opportunity to flee the castle and does so. This is when the evil queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) finds the huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to track her down in the Dark Forrest and bring back her heart. We all know that part of the story; we have seen it or heard it before. And since I'm bringing up Disney for a second, take a look at the castle when you first get a shot of it from the town's perspective. Now, I'm no expert but I do believe that looks an awful lot like the Disney Castle?

I really like the tone they were going for with this movie. The only things I noticed that should have been changed were to make it rated-R, and make it two movies. The movie has too much story to get through in one go around. It cram-packs five hours of material and character development into a 2-hour movie. They hint at it wanting to be a love story but shy away from it; they hint that it should be an epic war movie but lower the scale, and they hint that the movie should just be exploring this world we have never seen before and learning what is really in it. It journeys us through a dark forest full of hallucinogenic truffles and trees with a mind of their own to a land of fairies where all the animals are covered in moss? It shows us sights that seem amazing! (that is, unless you ever happened to catch that little film series called Lord of the Rings) This movie tried to be LOTR and accidentally failed. I don't blame anyone for this, it isn't anyone's fault. They just didn't quite reach the limits that LOTR took us too. That being said though, it's not like I actually expected it too. I mean, I don't pit every Sci-Fi movie against Star Wars and make fun of it if it doesn't reach those high places. "Snow White and the Huntsman" gave it a good shot but just fell a bit short unfortunately. The location scouting was really good for the wide angle shots, soaring over cliff sides and fog encompassed forests. The set design was limited, as every shot seemed like it was happening in a small area with no expanding space around them to go move. Even scenes in opens fields or long beaches seem closed-in and tight; we are unable to move about as viewers. 
Give the audience some space to live in! The costumes were very good, Snow White's and the Huntsman's were memorable. The dress she wears is close enough to the Disney classic to make us all remember, but far enough away to not feel like any sort of rip-off (I realize this movie has no affiliation with the Disney "counterpart", but "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" is such an historical moment in film history that it's difficult not to reference it).

Not in her nicest attire but looking pretty good none-the-less.
On the plus side of this movie, the acting of Kristen Stewart was very well directed; she was absolutely not left to her own devices which turned out to be a very good thing! (She only pulled her hair back once!!) She does a great job at being 2% Hard-A and 97% hot princess, with a quick 1% of childlike quality thrown in. She was a great pick for the role of Snow White in this movie no matter how I feel about her past performances. Chris Hemsworth proved that this time he could be a really big, really buff Viking who wields a hammer to fight off fantastical...wait...Chirs Hemsworth proved that this time he could be a really big, really buff Englishman who wields an axe to fight off fantastical creatures and knights to protect Snow White. He is my favorite part of the movie in all seriousness - the amount of time they allowed him of developing from a drunken worn-down widower of a hunter to becoming a protector and BA warrior is not much, but he does it so well. He places the right looks and the right movements at the exact right times to give us an emotion. I'd almost want to say that he was the main character of the movie if it weren't for the storm the castle scene at the end. Last but not least, we have Charlize Theron's role as the evil queen Ravenna. I want to say first that it's not her fault. She actually does a great job playing a possibly psychotic, schizophrenic evil queen, obsessed with being young and powerful, but still remembering her roots and that she wasn't always that way. The person or persons I DO blame for any parts of her performance that were sub-par are the sound guys and girls. There are a few scenes where she breaks into a screaming rage where they should have lowered her voice a bit or tossed in some background sounds or ambiance. Without any of that, a woman acting like she is screaming in anger turns out to just sound like when your mom tells you to clean your room because you haven't for three weeks and she knows, she KNOWS you left a half-full cup of milk behind your TV to hide it from her. It's very shrill with a hint of annoying, and it becomes cringing in the not the way i should be cringing way.

All in all, "Snow White and the Huntsman" does a pretty good job of pulling-off a re-imagining of the classic fairy tale. The effects look good enough and give us a breath of fantasy for people that feel like they are lacking in that department. The music is well placed and surprisingly good! Too many fantasy or sci-fi movies rely on special-effects or extreme story lines to worry much about the music but the music here is great. Lastly the tone of this movie hits the nail pretty darn close to the head for what I always want out of a fairy tale. It's dark with childish qualities. The dark could have been darker but there are some pretty messed up scenes that take place in the movie that may or may not actually disturb you. Which is perfect.

Check it out if you have the time because I'd say overall its worth checking out.