Thursday, 31 May 2012

Movie Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

In the 70 years or so since Disney’s animated telling of the Snow White Fairytale the story has remained largely untouched. So it comes as a shock when not one but two different films based off the fairytale are released in the same year. ‘Mirror, Mirror’ stars Julia Roberts in a more comedic and lighthearted reimagining of the story. And the other is ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’, a dark, gritty take on the tale of the unfortunate beauty, the film features an enormous budget and an A-List cast capable of delivering an experience of the old story that is perfectly suited for modern cinema.

After the death of his wife, King Magnus is called to war against a mysterious dark army on the fringes of his kingdom, upon confronting the army the King witnesses one of their soldiers shatter like glass upon a strike from one of his own. Held captive by the mysterious phantom army is a beautiful woman named Ravenna (Charlize Theron) whom the King decides will be his next queen. After they are wed Ravenna betrays her husband and using her mysterious powers, kills him, allowing her men into his castle so that she may have his kingdom. King Magnus’ daughter Snow White (Kristen Stewart) is imprisoned in a cell in the castle and suspected dead by her people. Years later Ravenna discovers that her powers are fading and the reason is Snow White, the only woman in the land fairer than she. Knowing she is to be executed Snow White escapes the castle and flees into the dark forest where few men have entered, and even fewer have left. Ravenna seeks out the services of a man known to have traversed the woods’ dangerous terrain, the huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), to find Snow White and bring her back to the castle where she will face the Queen’s fury.  

I’ll start with the good points of the film before I address the dreadful. I really loved the stylistic nature the movie has, it’s unique and makes great use of costumes, make-up and CGI together which bodes well for the audiences visual appreciation of the movie. This unique flair is reminiscent of Tim Burton’s version of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (I think the two films share some crew) which you might remember mostly for its stunning visuals and not for its plodding story and uninteresting heroine. The make-up department have done a great job in their task of making Charlize Theron look old and ugly (an impossible feat) and their work is complimented well by the clothing of the film, the costumes worn by Ravenna show through their exuberance and beauty the vanity of the Queen, in other cases her clothes symbolise a part of her she keeps hidden such as her raven feathered cloak.

Yoghurt. So that's how she stays youthful.

 Another great aspect of this film is the battle and fight sequences, they’re shot very well and choreographed perfectly to suit the camera. The CGI included in the battles is used intelligently and truly adds a stunning visual interest to the film such as Ravenna’s phantom army smashing to pieces upon the impact of a sword. The terrors within the dark forest are elevated by the use of the digital imagery also and used very well during the hallucinogenic state of Snow White where the audience sees through her eyes and witnesses unnatural characteristics of the forest coming to harm her.

Now for the bad aspects, of which there are many. The script is awful, just absolutely awful. It squeezes out line after line of cheesy, forced dialogue in the hopes of forwarding an incredibly tedious and predictable story. But the film does not even realise how bad its writing is, several times throughout the film everything will stop just for a second and let the actor deliver a line of dialogue which you just know the writer thought was either hilarious or incredibly moving/poetic, they are neither and not even a talented cast (which this film honestly has) could resurrect a film from such an awful and badly scripted plot.

The acting. The best in the picture is undoubtedly Theron but even she does a huge amount of overacting and scenery chewing in between her moments of finessed characterisation. She can’t be blamed though, with a script like this film has I can imagine that even overacting and hammy delivery was written into the damn thing! But I digress, Kristen Stewart does a remarkable job of NOT fidgeting uncontrollably and biting her lip to deliver a surprisingly small amount of lines for a main character, she’s not bad in this film and I fear I’ve let my Twilight hate cloud my judgment of her as an actress. Chris Hemsworth’s portrayal of the huntsman starts mediocre and improves as the film goes on, I’m not quite certain whether he was attempting a Scottish accent or a thick Yorkshire accent but he seemed to flit between the two throughout his turn as the horribly written (writing AGAIN!) hero.

The battle scenes are the bread in this poop-sandwich.

At 2 hours and 7 minutes this film is far too long and several times throughout I checked the time and upon realising it was not near as far in as I thought, sulked further into my seat, not the sign of an enjoyable movie. Unless its really your thing I think that at a certain point in this film you will feel sick with the sheer cheesiness and predictability of its story, believe me, when you see Snow White go towards a majestic white stag in a shining idyllic forest with birds chirping and the dwarves talking about how she is destined you’ll be in dire need of a barf bag. As I mentioned earlier the stylistic nature of the film is akin to Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ a very disappointing film, so what does it say that during similar scenes in this film I was yearning to be watching ‘Alice in Wonderland’ flaws and all it’s a better film than ‘Snow White and the Huntsmen’ turns out to be.

As hard as might be to believe from my ranting, I was actually looking forward to seeing this film, I was genuinely intrigued by the trailer and by the gritty take on the Grimm fairytale. I was massively disappointed however and you will be too if you pay to see this trash. Save your money and watch the Disney classic at home, it’s streets ahead of this.

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