Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman

I recently rented Snow White and the Huntsman from Netflix. I saw it once before in theaters, and I wasn't really sure what to think of it at the time. My feelings had nothing to do with the whole Kristen Stewart/Rupert Sanders scandal because I was lucky enough to see the movie before all that came out. Since that story overshadows the movie itself nowadays, I might as well get my thoughts on that out of the way first.

You see, I never quite bought that Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson were actually dating in real life. The whole thing felt like a huge publicity stunt for Twilight, in which (according to the reviews I've watched) the two show no chemistry whatsoever. I don't know, maybe I've just seen Singin' in the Rain too many times. Bottom line, I didn't care about the supposed affair and breakup, and I have no idea what the status of their relationship is now. I know even less about Rupert Sanders, so I care even less about his end of the aftermath.

As for Kristen Stewart as an actress, this is the only movie of hers that I've ever seen, and I didn't hate her in it. That's because she was such a non-entity that she didn't trigger any emotional response whatsoever. In fact, that's how I'd describe pretty much every performance in this movie, so Stewart didn't leave any especially negative impressions on me.

And that's ultimately what I've decided about Snow White and the Huntsman: it's a non-entity. I don't love it or hate it. It's just something to stare at for two hours. The story is a confusing mess, the editing sometimes makes things even more confusing, and the pace is so rushed that you never have time to connect with anyone in the story.

There was an option on the DVD to watch the extended cut of the movie instead, but get this - when you select it, a message comes up saying that you can't watch that version on a rental DVD. You have to buy the movie to have access to both cuts of the film. I didn't even know DVD distributors did that. Can anyone tell me if the extended version is any better?

Anyway, back to the review.

For as weak as the script is, I'll admit it's a good twist to have Snow White sort of fall for the huntsman instead of the prince in this version. He's always been the more conflicted and interesting character of the two, and let's face it, he risks and sacrifices a lot more for Snow White than the prince ever does. I always wanted to know what happened to him after he decided not to kill her, so kudos to this film for exploring that. I just wish it could have tied up the love triangle instead of leaving it wide open for a sequel.

The only other thing the film has going for it are the visuals, which are extremely stunning and imaginative. I love that the queen turns into a flock of crows to get from place to place. I love that the trees and rocks in the dark forest morph into monsters that attack the characters. I love that the magic mirror melts and stands up to looks like a person underneath a shiny cloak. The only problem is that there's such a lifeless, jumbled narrative stringing all these images together that you're too busy asking questions to fully admire them.

It's also worth mentioning that this movie goes to a lot of lengths to look like a Lord of the Rings film. Seriously, there's a scene where Snow White is being chased through a forest on horseback by several knights dressed in black, and it looks like they took the chase with Arwen and the Black Riders and Photoshopped Kristen Stewart's face over Liv Tyler's. And just look at Snow White's battle gear at the end and tell me she didn't steal it from Gondor. I find it kind of interesting that Lord of the Rings is still influencing the genre so heavily eleven years after it came out.

And okay, there's actually one more thing this movie has going for it. I find Chris Hemsworth attempting a Scottish accent to be extremely funny. The harder he tries to sound Scottish, the more noticeable his Australian accent becomes. It's like someone put Paul Hogan and Craig Ferguson in a blender and their voices started battling for dominance.

That's not a knock on Hemsworth's performance though. He's actually one of the better actors in the whole cast, or at least he's one of the few who really tries to do a good job. And you know what? I admire him a lot for that. I don't know what it is, but there's just something about him that I always find very likeable.

No! That's not what it is!

...Although that certainly doesn't hurt.

So those are my thoughts on Snow White and the Huntsman. Overall, I say either skip it or just watch it once for a laugh. It's a "C" at best for this one.

Hopefully I'll be seeing a much better fantasy film on Friday.

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