Monday, June 4, 2012
Snow White and the Huntsman, a Grim Retelling
Snow White (Kristen Stewart, who is perfectly fine in the title role) has been locked in the cell of a castle by her murdered father's second wife, the Queen (Charlize Theron). This Queen is consumed by thoughts--every second of every day--about aging and losing her beauty. So she does the only thing that makes sense: essentially sucking the blood out of fair maidens plucked from the local population. This process is is gruesome and frightening, but like Neutrogena it does wonders for her skin. She often asks the mirror on the wall who the hottest chick in Mordor is (the film seems like it takes place in the same universe as The Lord of the Rings saga), kind of equivalent to a wife asking her husband, "Do I look fat?" The mirror usually satiates her ego, but one day, when Snow White has come of age, we realize that White, in all her in-tact-hymen glory, actually is the most beautiful. The Queen must have her beating heart to become forever immortal and young. Theron's performance is definitely one of the highlights of the film, sneering and screaming as much as Queen Cersei on HBO's Game of Thrones.
It's on this day that Snow White escapes from this tower cell and sets off on a journey to become a woman and defeat the queen. She makes it to the Dark Forest, a sinister and hallucinogenic place that is as dangerous as it is gorgeous. It's here that the Huntsman finds Snow, and--of course at first she does not trust him--they escape further from the castle so Snow can reach her allies. The Dark Forest and a future place they reach, a fairy-land that would make Sookie Stackhouse squirt, are the two showcases for the incredible visual effects in the film. This CGI is top notch: the creatures are amazingly detailed, the flora is colorful and enchanting, and a breathtaking combination of danger or beauty awaits behind every fallen log or flowing stream.
It's tough to say how good Snow White and the Huntsman could have actually been. The source material is severely limited, and this film does enough to to at least look pretty incredible. But there's no judging a film based solely on looks: I walked into the film expecting a pretty movie with some cool battles and well-drawn characters. What I got was a mediocre and mild love story that looked incredible but lacked any originality or complexity. If you go into Snow White and the Huntsman expecting it to totally suck, then you will be pleasantly surprised. But if you're like me, and you didn't really want to watch Kristen Stewart bite her lip and decide whether to kiss the Huntsman or cuddle with the prince or watch her try to be a warrior (which is a joke), then watching the film is similar to taking a bite of a rotting apple: bitter and unappetizing. (C)