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Movie Review: Get Ready for a Letdown

Updated on October 5, 2013

Director: Rupert Sanders
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Sam Clafin, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Lily Cole, Toby Jones, Brian Gleeson, Johnny Harris, Ian McShane, Eddie Marsan, Vincent Regan, Noah Huntley

Snow White and the Huntsman is a dark and joyless exercise in action and special effects, filled to the brim with extravagant images that neither inspire awe nor wonderment in the audience unfortunate enough to sit through them. Debut filmmaker Rupert Sanders drains all color from practically every shot, resulting in a movie that looks murky and unpleasant. And the entire enterprise plays out in such a dreary and depressing tone that it's downright impossible to derive any pleasure out watching it.

Did the filmmakers actually have an audience in mind when they made this film? Did they even have a purpose? The screenplay, credited to three different people, is so messy and unfocused that it's downright impossible to get any meaning out of the film. By having Snow White (Kristen Stewart) transform from a helpless damsel to a Joan of Arc like action heroine in the climax, one could argue that they were trying to bring a feminist spin to the story line, but the transition is so unconvincing that you don't buy it for a second.

And what about the evil queen Ravenna, played by Charlize Theron? We learn in an earlier scene, where she seduces Snow White's father and stabs him in the heart, that she's something of a man hater, because she feels men will stay true to a woman as long as they remain young and beautiful, at which point they will go out and trade them for a younger model. A complex and fascinating character could have been made out of her, but the screenplay treats her as nothing more than a one-dimensional villainess. And Theron's performance is so over-the-top that there were more than a few instances where the audience I saw the movie with started giggling helplessly (this is especially true of the scene where she scolds her brother Finn, played by Sam Spruell, after Snow White escapes from his clutches in the tower she was imprisoned in).

I'd hide my face too if I green lit this thing!
I'd hide my face too if I green lit this thing!

And as for Stewart? There is a scene where one character refers to her as “life itself,” which is kind of ironic considering there isn't an ounce of life to her performance. However, I would go so far as to say that Stewart isn't at fault here. Her character is so dull that it's hard to imagine anyone doing anything with the role. What exactly makes her Snow White so special? That she's got a good heart? The same thing could be said about the young woman Greta (Lily Cole), who is imprisoned with Snow White in the earlier moments of the film. She seemed like she had a good heart to her. There are moments where Snow White seems to have some power to her that effects people and the creatures of the forest (there is one instance where she screams at a troll and stops it from killing a character), but the movie doesn't explain any of it.

In fact, there are more than a few things about the film that don't make any sense. Ravenna's powers seem to be whatever is convenient for the screenplay. There is one scene where she literally shape shifts into a character Snow White knows, a power that is never introduced before hand and seems to come out of nowhere. After Snow White temporarily croaks after munching on the queen's poisoned apple, she's awakened by a kiss from a character she's shown no romantic interest in, so how his kiss brings her back to life is anyone's guess.

All of this nonsense plays out in such a dark and unpleasant tone that it literally drains the fun out of everything. Make no mistake about it, Snow White and the Huntsman is a grim and unhappy experience. Dark fantasy adventures are not necessarily a crime (I loved The Lord of the Rings movies), but there is a real note of hostility in the film. We're treated to scenes where Ravenna feasts on the entrails of a bird; where Finn starts feeling Snow White in an inappropriate way; where Snow White happens upon a village where the women and children have disfigured themselves so Ravenna wouldn't suck out their youth (the village is later set ablaze); where Snow White finds a number of dead, rotting birds in a gloomy forest; and where Ravenna walks through a chamber of dead young maidens.

Even the usually charismatic Chris Hemsworth is hampered by the film's bleak tone. His Eric the Huntsman is hired by the queen to find Snow White in the Dark Forest, because the queen is, for some reason, powerless there (funny, you'd figure she'd be right at home). He's introduced in a bar fight, has a couple of witty lines, but then has all the joy, humor, and charisma drained out of him as the movie plods on. Sam Clafin co-stars as an archer named William, who was Snow White's childhood friend, and both the character and actor are so wasted that it seemed sort of pointless to even add him into the film.

D8
D8

There are some things about Snow White and the Huntsman that work. The production design by Dominic Watkins and costume design by Colleen Atwood are stunning (but are almost rendered moot by the dreary and unimpressive cinematography by Greig Fraser). The CGI effects are impressively rendered (the many aerial shots of Ravenna's castle are breathtaking), and the scene where Snow White eats the poison apple is actually brutally effective (and is the only scene where Stewart displays some acting chomps).

Special mention must also be made of the special-effects wizards who managed to digitally shrink famous British actors like Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Toby Jones, Brian Gleeson, Johnny Harris, Ian McShane and Eddie Marsan in the role of the eight (instead of seven) dwarves. None of the actors make much of an impression as the dwarves (Hoskins is particularly bad as the blind seer Muir), but hey, at least the effects are impressive.

Snow White and the Huntsman is a colossal disappointment in nearly every conceivable way. It's not enchanting, it's not exciting, and it sure as hell isn't fun. Perhaps the best thing that can be said about the film is that it isn't the worst film of the summer (that distinction still lies with Battleship), but given that we've already seen a great film (The Avengers) and a surprisingly good one (Men in Black 3) this summer, it is perhaps the most disappointing.

Final Grade: * 1/2 (out of ****)

What were your thoughts on this film? :)

2 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Snow White and the Huntsman

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    • profile image

      W.Bessy 5 years ago

      I agree with you completely. During the film, I actually remember thinking that I had not been that bored in a theater in a long time (granted, I don't go very often).

    • priley84 profile image
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      priley84 5 years ago from Warner Robins, Ga

      @ W.Bessy Oh, it was boring! More than anything, though, it was just unpleasant!

      P.S. Love the username! :D

    • profile image

      Danielle 5 years ago

      Do you think the film writers were trying for the Grimm version of the Snow White story? And I wonder if they were also trying to model the evil queen after Elizabeth Bathory, a famous Hungarian Countess (known as the "Blood Countess") who would torture and kill serent girls (believed to be over 650) and drink and bathe in their blood because she believed it would keep her youthful looking/beautiful...just pondering.

      I had actually been looking forward to this movie (despite it having the lifeless Stewart in it), but now not so much. :P I did promise to see it with my Bestie Cassie though...so I will still be seeing it, but now my expectations won't be so high, lol. :P

    • priley84 profile image
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      priley84 5 years ago from Warner Robins, Ga

      It's funny you should mention the "Blood Countess," because I was sort of thinking about that when I was watching it. It could be possible, but either way it didn't work.

      I know they were trying for a darker story, and that's not a bad thing. What was bad is that there was no joy or entertainment to any of it. It was not a good film.

    • profile image

      Danielle 5 years ago

      Nice to know I'm not the only one who knows about her...I heard about the Blood Countess a few years ago on a tv program and it has stuck with me ever since. Too bad they didn't use that to their advantage and make the queen's story more using using real elements of the Blood Countess's story.

      No it's not a bad thing to make a film dark, if done right. Too bad they apparently didn't do it right. :(

    • Life as a Blog profile image

      Monty Hamilton 5 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Yeah, you're right. The entire film had no life from the performances (aside from Theron's over the top turn) to the story itself. This movie could've been so much better in the right hands. Excellent review!

    • priley84 profile image
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      priley84 5 years ago from Warner Robins, Ga

      @Life as a Blog Thanks, and thanks for reading. :D

    • profile image

      Danielle 4 years ago

      Can you tell me what the appeal is with Stewart? How does she get so many jobs? Get paid so much? And has so many guys into her? She has the personality of a wet blanket and seems to still have a way of drawing guys in (or back in with Pattinson...though I find it interesting they are just now getting back together in perfect time to promote the last Twilight movie...what amazing timing :P )...and her acting is just as impressive as her personality....I just don't get it.

      And did you know they are supposedly making a sequal to this film? But from what I hear it will focus on Helmsly's character and that Stewart will not be in it at all.

    • priley84 profile image
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      priley84 4 years ago from Warner Robins, Ga

      All they need now is to get another director, and I might actually consider seeing it. :P

    • priley84 profile image
      Author

      priley84 4 years ago from Warner Robins, Ga

      @ Danielle: PS Did you see this movie yet? I was curious to hear what you thought about it? :P

    • profile image

      Danielle 4 years ago

      Well, both the Snow White film and the Hunger Games will have new directors....so start preparing yourself to watch the sequals. ;)

      And no not yet. (Can you tell how much I am behind on even my movie watching...???) As soon as I do I will let you know. :)

    • DChance2 profile image

      DChance 3 years ago

      I was going to rent this one but I guess I should stay away. Far far away.

    • priley84 profile image
      Author

      priley84 3 years ago from Warner Robins, Ga

      Far far far far far far FAR away!!!!!!!!!!

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