Saturday, June 9, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman

"Snow White and the Huntsman" could have gone one of two ways.  It either could have joined the ridiculously stupid "Red Riding Hood" from last year in reveling in "Twilight"-esque antics, or it could have played the dark fairy tale thing straight.  And when we all saw Kristin Stewart in the trailers quixotically playing the "fairest of them all", I guess we all panicked that this movie would turn out to be "Twilight 4¼:  Snow White"*.  Luckily, that's entirely not the case here, "Snow White and the Huntsman" actually turned out to be a decent movie.

Obviously, however, this isn't the kind of movie running on film reels made from the sacred Blood of Christ.  Its a mixed bag, and this should have been obvious to you the second that Kristin Stewart appeared in the trailer.  Actually, if you follow the trailers, you'd think this movie was entirely about the Evil Queen, played by Charlize Theron.  Well, while it is true that the Evil Queen still completely runs away with the show from her very first scene and greedily hordes all of the glory until the end credits, its still technically a movie starring Kristin Stewart.  By which I mean she's in front of the camera most of the time.  She doesn't actually say very much, though, which is probably the best way to handle a movie starring Kristin Stewart.  Some stagehand positions the Kristin prop in front of the camera, and while she poses as a human, everybody else acts around her.  Let's be honest here folks, we're here for Charlize Theron, we're here for Chris Hemsworth, and we're here again, for Charlize Theron.

So really "Snow White and the Huntsman" is approximately 70% a good movie.  Which is fine, its certainly a better batting average than the dismal "Battleship".  But still, this movie has a way of dragging right up until the second half, there is ZERO chemistry between Snow White and the Huntsman, despite Chris Hemsworth's best efforts, and thanks to Kristin Stewart, we have a movie with a black hole for a lead.  These are all problems the movie actually manages to overcome, thanks to having an impressive visual style and the proper commitment to being a high fantasy adventure movie.  Curiously, even though I think this was supposed to be a love story at some point, the romance plotlines are ignored and underplayed and ultimately left entirely hanging and pointless.  Which is just fine.  More action, more fantasy, less "Twilight".

And Charlize Theron is awesome, so you really do have to see this movie just for her.

Now, let me interrupt myself for a second to bring up what is by far the greatest shocking moment in this movie:  the Seven Dwarfs actually are in this.  They don't even show up until halfway through the movie, and I think the trailers showed them for maybe 1 x 10^-100 seconds.  Literally blink and you miss them.  When the Seven Dwarfs walked on screen, everybody in my theatre started laughing, because nobody expected them to actually be in "Snow White".  Which is weird, because this movie is, again, "Snow White"!  And even more amazing is that the Seven Dwarfs are actually an explosive artillery salvo of heavy duty actors, including Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, Toby Jones, Ray Winstone, and Simon Pegg's fat sidekick.  Holy god.  And just as you'd expect from a party of these great men, they breathe much-needed life and humor into what was actually a weirdly dreary movie up until then.

This is because, as I mentioned before, they rarely let Kristin Stewart talk.  Now, either this was some kind of misguided attempt to build up an enigmatic air of mystery about her character, or the director never wanted this "Twilight" broad in his fantasy movie and had to suffer with her thanks to the cruel whims of some dollar-counting producer.  And really, Kristin Stewart isn't even all that terrible in this movie, when she is actually allowed to be an actress, she does a fine job.  She manages to do the "pre-battle dramatic speech to the troops" moment well enough.  But the one time she's in the same room as Charlize Theron, she gets her ass kicked both literally and acting-wise.  And even though Snow White needs to fall in love with her Huntsman, um.... I don't buy it for a second.  Not even 1 x 10^-100 seconds.

Now let's move on to the real star of this show:  the Evil Queen.  Charlize Theron is able to move brilliantly from crazy over-the-top campy, to chilling wizardess, to Cersei Lannister, and then to sympathetic fully flesh-out human.  Yeah, they actually give the Evil Queen a backstory and justification for why she's evil (and it isn't because she was born with the first name "Evil", her real name in this is "Ravenna".)  In some scenes she's a demonic force of nature, utterly chilling.  And in other scenes her weak fascade of beauty and power break down and she's left a broken shell.  This character has everything.  If it weren't for the fact that this movie was a stupid girl's blockbuster, and that Charlize Theron is playing a fairy tale villain, there might have been another Oscar in Theron's future.  Unfortunately that Oscar will instead go to some movie about gay African Americans overcoming adversity in the Holocaust or something**.

And if you're a fan of fucked-up shit - like me - there's plenty to be found in the Evil Queen.  She's probably sleeping with her wicked brother, a pale European dude with an epicly bad Prince Valiant haircut.  She sucks the life out of young maidens to power her magic.  And there's the scene when she's half human and half crow, that's something else.  This movie isn't quite as dark as I would have wanted, or as R-rated, but there is something.  Like when Charlize Theron decides to bath naked in a tub of milk.  Thank you, God.

Now, everybody has already pointed out that Charlize Theron is kicking Kristin Stewart's ass in the beauty department.  So the main plot point of this movie:  jealousy from the Queen that Snow White is more beautiful than her is patently ridiculous.  I've trashed Kristin Stewart enough over the years, I'm going to admit, she is a pretty girl... but only from the right angle.  It took the "Twilight" series about four movies to realize how to properly film Kristin Stewart, and the director here has learned from their work.  If only she didn't leave her mouth hanging open, if only she had an expression on her face other than a mixture of vague boredom and drunken stupor.  If only I were a better writing and could find a way to discuss this topic without being terribly offensive to this poor girl.  Her hair is nice, I liked her dress when she was... dead.  If I ever meet Kristin, I guess I have to apologize.  But still, the contrast between Theron and Stewart is hilarious and distracting.

Let's talk about the largely theoretical romance plotline of this movie.  Because of the female audiences, there needed to be an attempt at a love triangle.  I say "an attempt" because it didn't work.  First you have Chris Hemsworth, who gamely follows all the cliches of a disinterested suitor finally bought together by an adventure.  There's a scene where an older female teases about romance, Hemsworth and Stewart try to have belligerent sexual tension, but ultimately he just doesn't have enough time with his co-star.  Then there's this other guy, this Prince dude.  He's a pretty boy (actually as pretty as Kristin Stewart, weirdly) who can shoot arrows and stuff.  Oh, he's played by the Priest from "Pirates of the Caribbean 4".  If you forgot about him - as we all rightly should have - he fell in love with a mermaid and she drowned him at the end.  Both Chris Hemsworth and the Prince try to kiss Snow White, only Chris Hemsworth's kiss actually works in bringing her back to life.  This is about the most predictable subversion of a fantasy story ever, by the way.

Now, there's a big epic battle scene, which is surprisingly decent.  Yeah, there's actually really good action in this movie.

And also, there's some great effects.  Well, the first special effect of the movie is an egregious CG bird, which didn't fill me with very much hope.  What, you can't film a real bird??  But later all the CG work comes together nicely.  There's some great magical stuff in the land of the Faerie.  Still, I had the sense this movie was just slightly too clean.  Have you guys ever seen an 80s medieval fantasy movie?  They're all these fantastic super-gritty events, since they were literally filmed in mud.  If only this movie came out thirty years earlier, the Huntsman could have been played by Rutger Hauer.  And that would have been awesome.  Actually, I think I just wanted to see "Flesh+Blood" again.

What I personally find to be the most hilarious scene of the movie is actually the very end.  There's a big crowning of Queen Bella Swan***, and while she's on her throne, she looks over at Chris Hemsworth who is standing in the back of the room.  Now, usually at this point there would be a big scene when Kristin Stewart would run off the throne and lay a big kiss on his lips and the crowd would applaud and I would die a little inside.  Instead all that happens is Chris Hemsworth flashes a half-hearted look of "look babe, it never would have worked between us".

And then the movie just ends suddenly.  Bravo for that.

July Update for LULZ - I was wondering why Kristin Stewart was in this movie at all, since the director seemed to have absolutely no trust in her ability to act.  Well, turns out I was wrong, she wasn't a studio shill thrown in to boost sales.  She wasn't hired to act, she was hired to fuck.  By which I mean, the studio didn't force her on director, Rupert Sanders.  No, Kristin Stewart forced herself on him.  Meanwhile Robert Pattinson is standing around with a blank expression while his girlfriend cheats on him - a position he should be used to by now after playing Edward Cuckhold in five Twilight movies.  Lulz.

* I would have called it "Twilight 4½", but that movie really exists, and is coming out this year!  Oh Gods - poison, I need poison!...

** Personally I'm hoping that the darling of the Oscars next year will be the upcoming musical adaptation of "Les Miserables", starring Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean.

*** The good guys win.  Huge spoiler, huh?


  1. Not related at all...but, Blue.
    Look. Luminous Engine for Final Fantasy on Next-Gen consoles

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. we're here for Chris Hemsworth, dreadful spelling originally. shame.

  3. Mmmmm...Charlize Theron in a tub of milk *Drools over keyboard*

  4. Wait, wasn't there supposed to be a Batman review this week?