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Movie Review Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)

Light and dark themes are applied to one of our most familiar fairy tales.


Dark and light, Snow and Iron

This has got to be the most misunderstood and badly reviewed movie in some time. I say this as a response to all the bad and negative movie reviews I’m reading. I wasn’t even planning on reviewing this move (since I consider it my own guilty pleasure) even though I was sorta amped to see it. I was drawn in by the battle scenes and promise of a goth-like re-imaging of the iconic Snow White and the Seven Dwarves story. The plot is dead simple so you don’t have to fret over a bad script (mostly) or poorly written narrative. The graphics looked imaginative and impressive so really, what’s the problem?

Well, the movie plays with the obvious contrast between light and dark and throws a good amount of grey on every character. We are shown lots of awesome sights, but nothing is fully fleshed out or explained. I believe this causes viewers and reviewers to grasp at hints as helpers and devices as definitive. One plot summary has the Huntsman tasked with taking Snow White into the woods. What? He was dispatched to bring her back from the dark forest. Another reviewer tells us that Snow White is torn between two loves. No. That wasn’t even shown in the movie at all. A third bases the movie on the love story between the huntsman (Thor’s Chris Hemsworth) and White (Kristen Stewart). Again, that’s not a major component, but yeah they team up, but there is no implied romance. I think people are writing the reviews after watching the trailer. Shame on you.

What we do have is the evil queen Ravenna, who is played by a delightfully demented Charlize Theron. Her sinister brother is also nicely realized by Sam Spruell. They are hell-bent on capturing the heart of Snow White, um not in a loving way to be sure. After escaping their evil clutches, Snow White must travel across dangerous and enchanting lands in order to raise an army capable of standing up to the evil queen. Wow, sounds like my Chaos Legion series. She is guided by the huntsman, a former warrior who is unsure of why he’s along for the ride.

Giants and Dwarves, Big and Small ideas

Along the way we are shown many wondrous things; knights in black armor exploding into shards of onyx, enchanted forests…pixies…sprites…  The problem lies in the fact that these huge attractions are given very little explanation. I call these giants with small roles. They serve to bewilder and awe, but are never given enough screen time or importance to satisfy our curiosity. I kept thinking oh that was cool; I bet we’ll be seeing that again, later in the movie. Nope.  That leaves many avenues of our imagination without resolution.

People have said this movie is overlong. I disagree. I think it needed a Lord of the Rings treatment and should have been split into two movies, both filmed in one pass. That would allow us to learn more about the mirror, mirror on the wall, the creation of her phantom army and how the dark forest came to be. I’d even like to know more about the enchanted forest and how the queen developed her powers…the two sprites…more about the seven dwarves. Certainly adding a huntsman to the  title is enough to differentiate the versions, but the dwarves needed way more journeying time to develop.

The last line Snow White delivers to the fallen queen is “You can’t have my heart.” I expected a following line like “…because it is already taken.” or “because yours is already dead” or anything. And that’s the perfect summary of this movie. It leads us in some really cool directions, but stops short of delivering its full potential. Snow White and the Huntsman is worthy of seeing, renting and owning. It’s the movie you keep on your shelf when you’ve got that kind of company.

Snow White and the Huntsman movie poster

A queen you’d give your heart to…literally….

It did well over the opening weekend and exceeded studio expectations. Congratulations to first time director Rupert Sanders. Hopefully he tackles something like the movie Time Bandits next. I am not a movie critic; I am simply critiquing a movie.

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