Reader POLARIS offers a review of Snow White & the Huntsman!

12 Jun

by Mike Hansen

Just hours after offering to publish any great reader reviews that are sent to us, I received an email from a reader code-named “POLARIS” who gives their own take on Snow White & the Huntsman – there are some good points and Polaris notices some stuff that I’d missed. This is so good that I had to share it with you all…

Snow White and the Movie That Should Have Been

(Warning: There will be spoilers)

I came out of this movie much the same way I went into it: expecting it to look awesome, Charlize Theron to be a badass, and praying to whatever deity would listen that Kristen Stewart would be at least tolerable.  Two out of three isn’t bad.

It’s always difficult making a movie from long established source material, especially when it’s a fairy tale as well known and beloved as Snow White.  Though the Disney version will perhaps always be referred to as the definitive movie adaptation, I will confess that one of the problems I have always had with most Disney retellings of fairy tales is how sanitized they are.  I don’t want the Little Mermaid living happily ever after, I want her sacrificing herself to become sea foam for a prince that rejected her.  I also don’t want to see the entire cast of The Hunchback of Notre Dame happy at the end of a story where everyone was left either miserable or dead.

It is for this reason that I really enjoyed the dark and somewhat twisted nature of this retelling and how this theme was enhanced by the amazing visuals.  Once the evil queen takes over, the land dies and boy do we see it in all its rotting and frightening glory.  The Old Forest shows this best of all as we see the forlorn husks of dead trees and decay all around.  The people of this dead land are dirty, hungry, broken and have faces as dark and hollow as the world they inhabit.  Conversely, when we are brought into Sanctuary by the dwarves it is a beautiful world full of color and life where amazing things are everywhere along with the hope that everything can be this way again.  If nothing else I would recommend seeing this movie for the stunning visuals and just how well they are used to set the tone of the movie and the world within.

As I mentioned earlier, Charlize Theron is a badass.  Whenever she is on screen she has your attention.  Whether she is yelling at inept underlings or writhing on the floor in agony you can’t look away.  She takes what could easily be a typical evil witch archetype and gives it depth.  We see her not only as a powerful force of destruction but also as an individual obsessed with her own mortality and sense of justice.  Chris Hemsworth plays a believable man overcome by grief due to the death of his wife and his desire to do anything to bring her back, even if it means going into the Old Forest for the Wicked Queen.  He’s not given much to work with since he’s essentially there to help/protect Snow White and be part of a really awkward and underdeveloped love triangle, but he does well with what he’s given.  Then there’s Kristen Stewart……I want to like her, I really do.  I keep hearing that she really can act and it’s unfair to judge her skills based on the Twilight series given the fact that they’re so horrible the only way you can really watch them is with Riff Trax, but I’m just not seeing it.  She plays the scared damsel in distress well enough, and I can almost buy the sense of wonder she tries to convey throughout the film as she is reintroduced to a world she been locked away from for years.  BUT….she really needs to learn how to close her fucking mouth.  No matter what scene she was in, no matter where she was, if she wasn’t talking her mouth was hanging open as if it was a halfway house for insects.  I quickly became so distracted by this that it didn’t matter how well she may have acted a scene with her broken in and out English accent because I was just waiting to see if she was capable of closing her mouth for more than five seconds.  It’s really hard to stay invested in a story when the main character has a behavior that just pulls you right out of the movie.  The dwarves were all well and good, and many of them great British actors that I’ve come to love over the years, but I can’t help but feel that real dwarves/midgets/little people/what-have-you are getting the short end of the stick here.  These are all roles that could have easily been filled by actors of the shorter persuasion.  “But what about the Lord of the Rings movies” you may cry.  What about them?  Yes they use regular actors to play dwarves and hobbits, but at least Peter Jackson never digitally placed their heads on the bodies of little people then credited said bodies as doubles.  It’s adding insult to injury and quite frankly bullshit.

And speaking of bullshit, I can’t forget the actual story.  While on the whole it follows a pretty set pattern and there are things it addressed really well (such as the Queen’s origin and what pretty girls in the kingdom do to avoid being fodder for her royal evilness), there are logic problems I just can’t get past.  For instance, how is it Snow White just happens to be wearing a pair of well made leather pants under her dress?  Or why the hell is she reciting The Lord’s Prayer in a movie about magic and fantasy?  Why didn’t the queen feed on her long, long ago before she could fight back?  These are the simple questions.  What I took bigger issue with was what we just weren’t shown or told.  Snow White takes a bite of the apple and dies or goes into an enchanted sleep or something.  They never explain it.  She later wakes up and never bothers to ask what the hell is going on and why is she dressed in white and left in a church like she’s about to be buried. No one says anything about the fact that up until she walks into the doorway for everyone to see, everyone thought she was dead. Yes we all know the fairy tale, but this story clearly diverges from the main story at several points and it would be nice to know exactly what the deal was with the apple and it’s after affects.  Then there is the love triangle that feels shoved in there because hey there’s got to be one right?  The Huntsman and William characters could easily have been combined into one, or just lost William all together.  Aside from being a possible love interest he really serves no purpose at all.  And I can’t forgive the biggest oops of the story, Snow White’s a fighter now?  She spends the entire film being wide eyed, innocent, and pure.  They even comment that she is life itself and we see this as things in the realm start to come back to life, in contrast to the Queen who clearly represents death.  So how is it that this innocent young thing is suddenly riding into battle leading an army?  That purity and innocence they love talking about all through the film is lost the moment she kills someone, which incidentally she does on the way to her big confrontation with the Queen.  There’s a reason the Queen has always been dealt with by other people and that reason is because Snow White is supposed to be good and pure and you can’t be that if you’re killing people, even if it’s a wicked Queen and it’s self defense.  I also find it hard to believe that as the princess and last hope for the kingdom that she wouldn’t have an honor guard attached to her hip making it impossible for her to confront the Queen all by her lonesome.  None of this makes any sense.

However, don’t let all this dissuade you from seeing the movie.  It is remarkably well done as a whole and I would defiantly recommend seeing it.  What it does have going for it more than makes up for what it doesn’t.  It’s just a shame they didn’t do another draft or two of the script before filming, but such is the nature of Hollywood.

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