If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve no doubt seen me praise NBC’s Grimm for the wonderful way they’ve successfully woven fairy tales into a detective show. It’s for this reason that I was interested to see Snow White and the Huntsman. It seemed the film’s helmers were taking a fresh approach to the legend, portraying Snow White as a young warrior princess. So, is Snow White destined to lead her troops to victory at the box office or will this be one legend that we’ll soon forget?
If you’ve seen a trailer for the film you already know all you need to know. An evil queen, consumed with vanity, is on a quest to be the “fairest” woman “of them all”. On her quest, the queen learns she only need to consume the heart of Snow White to live forever.
My positive experience with Grimm and how they’ve updated classic stories really had me excited for Snow White and the Huntsman. After seeing Snow White and the Huntsman I must say it is only a “fair” movie. It’s by no means the worst film I’ve seen, but it’s not one I’m dying to see again either. Snow White and the Huntsman is one of those movies that you mildly enjoy and will watch when it comes on cable and you've got a little time to kill. To clarify this point, it’s best to start with what works in the movie.
Any fairy tale worth its salt needs a good villain. Fortunately for us, Charlize Theron is very good as the evil queen, Ravenna. Theron’s performance as Ravenna won’t win her another Oscar, but it does it’s job, making us despise and fear the evil queen. There is no element of camp in Ms. Theron's performance. As the film wore on I worried they wouldn’t be able to keep Ravenna's "menace level" up, but they were able to, with Theron delivering a solid heel performance all the way until the movie's end.
Snow White and the Huntsman really kind of drug along in the middle, only picking up the pace in the last 15 minutes or so. As the film continued to drag along, I worried the filmmakers would end up (unintentionally) putting some cringe-inducing dialogue into the film. To their credit, the screenwriters didn’t drop the ball in this respect.
Theron’s performance is by far the strongest in the film. It’s a shame that Kristen Stewart was chosen to be the "yang" to Theron's "yin". Stewart isn’t terrible, but I have trouble believing she could inspire someone to eat their vegetables, yet alone inspire an entire kingdom to rebel against their ruthless queen. Stewart's performance could be the most flat and soulless I’ve seen since January Jones' as Emma Frost in X-Men: First Class. At least Jones' performance could be defended by the fact Frost was supposed to be a cold-blooded character.
Thankfully, Stewart’s lack of charisma didn’t derail the entire movie. While on the subject of disappointing performances, I must mention Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth. Perhaps Hemsworth is just a victim of circumstance, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was just watching a powerless Thor in Snow White and the Huntsman, not an entirely different character. Hemsworth’s performance is really uneven. There were moments where I felt he was going to shake off the Thor mold, but inevitably he fell back into it. In fairness, this could be a personal hangup of my own as I’ve recently watched Hemsworth as Thor in The Avengers, but the accent is the same, the mannerisms similar, so he wasn’t really pushing the envelope with his performance.
Even though Stewart and Hemsworth both turn in less than stellar performances, I think Snow White and the Huntsman’s ultimate downfall is the fact that it lacks “heart”. It is by no means a bad movie; in fact, it’s much closer to being a good movie than being a bad one. The film just seems to lack the “it factor” that makes me care about what I’m watching. Perhaps this lack of heart was compounded by the films length, but overall I think Snow White and the Huntsman is just missing that little spark that makes you care for the characters and their plight.
Verdict: If you’re a big fan of Kristen Stewart you’ll enjoy the film. If you want to see Chris Hemsworth run around scruffy and dirty, you’ll find plenty to like. If you like good movies, you should probably look elsewhere.
Girl Power: It’s a shame they botched this film. They had an opportunity to present young women with a strong heroine who was extremely strong and independent, only to betray that with an uncharismatic lead in a heartless production. Watching the movie I couldn’t help thinking how much better the film might’ve been with Amanda Seyfried or Rachel McAdams opposite Charlize Theron.
Don’t Bring the Kids: Although the film is only rated PG-13, I think parents should think twice about taking their younger kids to the film. It’s pretty dark.
Fool Me Once (Shame on You): A fair word of warning, the movie has less action than the trailers would lead you to believe. There are a decent number of action scenes, but I felt the trailer portrayed the film as an action film, but it’s definitely more of a drama.