Thursday, June 7, 2012

Snow White And The Huntsman (Movie Review)

Written by Drew Rub

Hello, fellow Seekers. This is Drew, and I wanted to share my thoughts on the newly released “Snow White and the Huntsman”.

Not many trailers have had me on the edge of my seat wanting to see a movie with this much intensity. “Prometheus” is one which I will hopefully be seeing this coming weekend, and “Snow White and the Huntsman” is the other. When I first saw this trailer, it took a moment for me to realize I was dying to see a fairy tale movie. I almost turned in my geek card. Then I realized how incredibly NON-fairy tale this movie is.

(Warning, some spoilers ahead, but nothing too disastrous) In a twist on the Grimm brothers tale, a queen (the good one) wishes for a daughter with skin white as snow, lips red as blood, and hair black as ebony. Sometime later, the Queen dies. During a battle, the king’s army rescues a woman that’s beautiful enough to win the king’s heart in a day. They marry and Queen Ravenna murders the king. The queen then locks Snow up in a tower for the next few years.

On her 18th birthday, the Queen’s mirror informs her that one has come of age that is fairer than she. She is told that Snow is her salvation, able to give her immortality. When Snow escapes, Queen Ravenna seeks someone who knows the Dark Forest to bring back her heart. Enter Thor…uh, The Huntsman.

I’ll not give away more of the movie plot, but in a twist, the Huntsman doesn’t exactly fall in love with Snow and allow her to escape, he just realizes that Queen Ravenna isn’t going to keep her promise of uniting him with his deceased wife. Thor…the Huntsman becomes Snow’s guardian and teacher.

I give this film high marks for its technical production. From a fun, driving musical score to wide sweeping vistas, the production is worthwhile. One of the opening battle scenes is reminiscent of the opening battle scene from “Gladiator”. The visual design does a great job with making you sense the despair that the characters are supposed to be feeling. The drab colors of clothing, the muddy towns, and the Dark Forest all convey a sense of down-trodden, broken spirits.

For those of you who enjoy a good fantasy flick, let me assure you, this film will give it to you. All of the classic elements are present; good vs. evil, heroes and villains, magic and monsters, sword fights a plenty, and an archer on par with Hawkeye or Green Arrow (or Legolas, although that might be stretching it a little).

As is part of the story of Snow White, she does fall into a deep sleep and as we all remember from childhood, she’s awoken by Prince Charming’s kiss of true love. There is a nice little twist on that kiss, but I won’t give it away. And that’s another bonus to this film, there wasn’t a big play on any of the romance from the fairy tales.

This film isn’t geared toward children, and there are some scenes that, should you take a younger child, might be a bit disturbing. Queen Ravenna, in one scene, pokes a metal fingernail into the entrails of a dead animal, plucks out one of the internal organs and proceeds to eat it. I don’t remember a single joke or humorous scene in this film, helping to reinforce the dark undertone that this film wanted.

There was one thing that I noted that could have been developed more, and was a potential missed opportunity. When the King marries Ravenna, there is clergy at the ceremony, dressed in the traditional appearance of catholic leadership. Then, when we first see Snow as an adult, she’s in the tower, and recites the Lord’s Prayer. The next time we see a Christian or other religious influence is at the end when Snow is crowned as Queen (hope that wasn’t a spoiler).

Despite Snow’s apparent faith in a Heavenly Father, there’s no point in the film while she’s trying to battle the magical evil queen where she relies on that faith or that Heavenly Father. Those that fight against the evil queen and her magic are normal people with no “light side” or “good magic” involved. Evil is defeated through sheer human effort. Including the Lord’s Prayer in our introduction to Snow should have been a chance to add some kind of “good” spiritual force. The most you’ll see is Snow getting a blessing from White Heart, the giant stag that would make any true hunter drool.
However, as my wife pointed out, “where would you put it in the story?” I was hard pressed to come back with a good answer for that one, so a second chance to watch it to answer that question might be in the future.

The only other disappointment I had with this film was the quality of the acting. I enjoyed Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman, and I haven’t been poisoned by Twilight to dislike Kristen Stewart. I did think that her performance as Snow White was solid, expect the rallying “battle speech” she delivers at the end. I suspect this was less Kristin’s fault than the script she was handed. I expected a little more from Charlize Theron as well. For an evil queen, I didn’t find her evil enough for my taste. In one scene, Ravenna goes on a supposed rage induced tirade against her brother for letting Snow White escape. But Charlize’s delivery is sub-standard, and her rage just isn’t felt. Or at least, I didn’t feel it.

Over all, I don’t see this film as winning any major awards for best actors or acting. However, with a great technical production, excellent use of CG (sorry, Paeter, I know you don’t like CG, but the Obsidian Shard creatures in the final castle fight are very well done), and a strong story, this is still a movie worth spending the money on. If you are looking for a good fantasy flick, this movie will definitely satisfy that desire.

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and brief sensuality

Quality 9.0/10

Relevance 8.0/10

Read more from Drew on his blog!

And listen to this review this weekend on The Spirit Blade Underground Podcast!

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