2012 has really been kind to the classic Grimm fairy tale and while the Disney animation of the golden era of cinema is the most beloved family friendly version, Rupert Sanders seeks to tell a darker story filled with gritty realism – but does this realism come at the expense of the story itself? Turns out that the rookie director only had special effects on the brain.
When I first caught a glimpse of Snow White and the Huntsman, I expressed my concerns that the film was just going to materialise as an action heavy, special effects extravaganza that put characters and story second – these suspicians sadly came to fruition. The inexperience of the director is evident as the picture seems more like a story that has been cobled together around various battle sequences – this concequently leads to some uneven pacing that frequently becomes a burden to watch and before long I found myself wondering what would be the next set piece that they would throw into the mix.
What doesn’t help the film is the subdued and mostly inept acting from the characters that populate the story, nothing seems genuine or believable, almost as though they were reciting from a teleprompter. This is probably the most unexpected turn in Snow White as there appears to be some real talent amongst a cast which just seems uninterested in performing in this fairytale reimagining. Given his run in the Marvel universe as Thor, Chris Hemsworth does what he does best: swing large weapons around and recite battle cries – to this he is effective but whatever qualities that he does have just aren’t used. Charlize Theron seems to be the only truly capable actor amongst the pack and while her acting does lean towards ham at times, for the most part she is the only character that seems vaguely interesting.
While I can understand that the filmmakers were aiming for big explosions and sleek special effects to get this blockbuster off the ground, what I can’t understand is how such an iconic, and frankly, simple story got lost amongst the production values – we should take into account that this is in fact a fairytale but the fairytale elements just don’t seem to gel with this more serious take on the popular fable. Case in point is the kiss of true love…scrap that, all the storytelling elements that progress the book that are cliche or expected just don’t seem to work and seem cheesy when placed in the context of this universe.
Another twist that just doesn’t feel right.
Another rather offputting decision also came in the casting department – tell me, in which world, fictional or real, would Kristen Stewart be considered a greater beauty than Charlize Theron? This may just be my personal taste but in comparrison, Theron has this graceful, timeless beauty while Stewart seems nothing more than a bucktoothed hippie. I can image so many better choices for the role but they simply cashed in on the fact the Stewarts popularity at the moment is a major draw card.
Make no mistake Snow White and the Huntsman will make a lot of money – the film has been designed to appeal to the widest demographic possible (aside from the people that enjoy well put together movies), jokes aside, they’ve included everything from fantasy and action to horror and drama but this pastiche of genres once again seems to be a poorly integrated procedure that once again seems shoe-horned onto the script and eventually kills the pacing by over extending itself. Huntsman does one thing well – deliver a darker reality for the iconic story, its sad that it wasted that potential where it could have been more than a forgettable midsummer box office blunder.
The summer movie season is filled with blockbusters like these that are all brawn and no brains, give it a pass if you’ve become jaded with these sort offerings but if you found yourself enjoying any of the Transformers sequels, this might be your fix.
The Bottom Line
Snow White and the Huntsman, while a great example of what can be achieved with CGI and special effects takes some severe blows to matters of greater importance – pacing, story, characters, and believability. Yes it is a visual treat but it comes at a price and everything seems tacked on and phony not to mention forced. Snow White has always relied on a supernatural context – the book itself is decidedly dark, the classic Disney animated feature is light-hearted fun, and Mirror Mirror was an acceptable pantomime (albeit barely). Sanders’ take on the fable is darker, violent, and visually striking but in a world that needs more than just special effects, Huntsman just doesn’t have the sharpest edge.