NOTE: This review regards the extended version. It contains four extra minutes that were perhaps too egregiously boring to include in the theatrical edition, which runs two hours and eight minutes as it is.
Bottom Line: Avenge me! I have now seen Snow White and the Huntsman.
Directed by: Rupert Sanders
Starring: Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Stewart, Sam Claflin
The Dwarves: Bob Hoskins, Brian Gleeson, Eddie Marsan, Ian McShane, Johnny Harris, Nick Frost, Ray Winstone, Toby Jones
Snow White and the Huntsman is nothing more than what was exhibited in the trailers. The film chokes out as a depressing, remorseful sense of failure, digging violence up from out of the Grimm fairy tale’s subtext and into its own foreground, all in the name of appealing to an older audience. It’s a sad state of affairs that it may, in fact, be profusely lesser in quality than how it was advertised, with abundant stupidity and poor dismissal of common sense. I’ll hesitantly give the film points in one area–visual effects. No, these embellishments weren’t at all mind-blowing, and yes, they were in the trailer, but they at least kept me awake through the entire debacle. What’s even more ridiculously absurd is that director Rupert Sanders is frantically hell-bent over making this his Lord of the Rings, despite it being his debut effort working in the film industry. Something for which “ambitious” is a very weak word.
Huntsman differs from any “Snow White” we ever knew mostly because of the intuition that never shows up in the story itself. The first half hour explains the origins of Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) as well as those of her archenemy, Snow White (Kristen Stewart). In my recent review for Mirror Mirror, I wrote: “Snow White is depicted as neither beautiful nor smart. On the other hand, the Queen displays both qualities, or at least her narcissistic narration seems to believe in such.” Huntsman displays this bleeding misstep five, if not ten times worse. While Queen Ravenna is basking away in her beauty, honor, and riches, Snow White grows up in the darkest, dampest dungeons in a castle, locked away like a prisoner. It’s extremely difficult to even call her Snow White when her face is constantly as dirty as her shoes. How baffling that the mirror would decide Snow White is the “fairest of them all,” despite her filthy appearance and lack of sensibility.
The tale continues as the Queen sends out a huntsman. I guess she’s looking for the first she can find. She chooses a drunkard (Chris Hemsworth). As Theron was the only performer in the film to present expression beyond monotone, I could almost feel her logic. “He’s a drunkard, eh? Drunkards, as in the men who drink, fight, and screw? Fight, as in kill? Send him out!” So the drunken huntsman arrives, ready to kill Snow White upon the request of the Queen. If only Snow White hadn’t pulled out a knife to defend herself. The wonders of deus ex machina, creating objects that never were in order to save the protagonist and put an audience through hours of more hell. At least in the next forty-five minutes, we are reminded of the Disney version we all grew up with. Snow White and the huntsman, after falling in love somehow, meet Scottish-looking and -sounding dwarfs, and we get a sentence that includes both the words “hi-ho” and “whistling.”
Anyone familiar with the story could predict the fashion in which the rest of the story plays out. I won’t bother with a dissertation on Kristen Stewart’s amateurish moments. Her delivery is one-note and rapid, as if she’s in a hurry to grab her salary and go blow it to a penny at Starbucks. There’s very little chutzpah in the film’s arrangement. Oh wait, it did sound as if a dwarf was trying to yell “chutzpah” at one point, but he was actually coughing during a slow-motion sequence. There’s quite a lot of those, too, usually to intensify the huntsman’s battle cries, but it only makes him sound like the drunken idiot that he is. Snow White and the Huntsman was a film of insurmountable potential. I can imagine great things from this film, had it been in the hands of a director as prestigious as James Cameron (Terminator 2, The Abyss) or Steven Spielberg (E.T., Jurassic Park). All I can say is, in terms of how cinema correlates with philosophy, Forrest Gump is somewhere between a genius and a wiseman. Because stupid is as stupid does. That’s all I have to say about that.