Irradiated by LabRat
Alternate title: “What’s Wrong With Snow White And The Huntsman”.
Usually I cut-tag movie discussions to avoid spoilers, but in a case of a movie like this, there’s really no such thing as a spoiler, because absolutely nothing comes as a surprise unless you’re a complete newcomer to Western culture and media. If you are just now reading this blog from the African bush for English lessons (not recommended), you may wish to discontinue reading, but otherwise…
I really wanted to like this movie. I’m a sucker for dark fairy tales and fairy tale retellings, especially when part of the reason for doing it is to add more depth to the characters and take some of the passivity out of the heroines. I’m usually quite happy to watch Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth do just about anything, and I was willing to give Kristen Stewart a chance to see what she can do when she’s not playing a role whose entire purpose is to be as blank a slate as possible so that the viewer might more easily project.
I did not end up liking this movie. It’s possible to waste Chris Hemsworth if the entirety of your direction is to tell him to pant and look dyspeptic in all scenes. Kristen Stewart doesn’t have any more depth or ability than Bella does. Charlize Theron was the one thing worth watching in the entire movie, and not even her performance redeems it. Watching Kristen Stewart attempt to act next to her is like watching Gilbert Gottfried attempt to do smoldering leading man next to Clark Gable.
The central problem with the movie is that apparently its creators felt that the way to fix Snow White, a fundamentally passive protagonist, was to turn her into a God Mode Sue. I understand that the central theme is the contrast between the evil queen’s outer beauty and inner viciousness with Snow White’s beauty within and without (and it better be pretty fucking profound within, because putting Stewart next to Theron as the “fairest of them all” is kind of a stretch otherwise), but said inner beauty is very much a case of told and not shown.
Oh, she’s not mean or unpleasant, but absolutely everyone in the movie adores her for no visible reason. If she’s particularly kind or brave or generally wonderful, it’s only because everyone else in the kingdom is generally some degree of nasty without her direct influence, including the Huntsman, the dwarves, and her other love interest, Some Guy. She spends most of her life locked in a small cell in a tower being generally mistreated, but she emerges from this situation with absolutely no psychological, social, or physical impairments. (Perhaps it’s like Doctor Who’s TARDIS and there’s actually a Club Med somewhere in there.) The only time anything comes with difficulty to her is while she’s initially fleeing into the Dark Forest, and even then she has magical help. After the Huntsman arrives nothing is a problem anymore unless someone is directly trying to kill her, but even then it’s not particularly shown how his expertise is being of much help to them.
Most of the rest of the movie is people surrounding Snow White immediately dedicating their own lives to her service and to overthrow the successfully brutal and repressive queen, and subsequently being shot full of arrows if they are not actually crucial to the plot. Eventually the Queen manages to stick a poisoned apple in her (and subsequently seems to lose interest, even though taking her heart is pretty crucial to continuing her own life), which is enough of a roadblock that she has to be packed back into a neighboring castle to make a proper debut after the obligatory faintly necrophiliac sequence.
Eventually she defeats the evil queen after getting many more of her devoted shot full of arrows, boiled in oil, or sliced to death, and then the movie just sort of ends. No other plotlines are resolved, no questions are answered, Snow White is crowned and that’s apparently awesome enough to close on.
Charlize Theron is appropriately dark and dramatic and creepy. Whenever she wasn’t on the screen, I was looking at where I wished I’d thought to wear a watch.
Don’t waste your time or your money.