Friday, June 1, 2012


SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN is one of those movies which will split everyone right down the middle. It is beautifully shot and composed in such a way that it’s a sin to look away from it. But underneath all that beauty, there lies a big dark pile of nothing.
The evil Queen (Charlize Theron) imprisons Snow White (Kristen Stewart) after murdering the king. The Queen is told by her magic (and unexplained) mirror that the only way she can become immortal is by consuming White’s heart. Snow White escapes the castle and into the Dark Forest. The Queen hires the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), a drunken and depressed man to go out and find her.

HUNTSMAN is a visual marvel. Not only because of some great visual effects, but for the exquisite camerawork and cinematography. Director Rupert Sanders fills the frame with a lot to look at; every shot is composed like a work of art and it is nothing short of stunning.
But once you get beyond that, HUNTSMAN stumbles around blindly in the woods. The simple story blazes along quickly without taking much time for its characters or surroundings. The world the characters inhabit is not explained very well. A lot seems to be taken for granted; as if it is assumed that the audience already knows what things are made of and why. The character of Snow White and the Huntsman suffer the most from the big rush. With such a simple story, the film really needed something to latch onto, and the leading pair should have been it. But little to no time is given to them to develop any chemistry; it is a hero and a damsel-in-distress no one would care about. While they do have their moments (not many of them), HUNTSMAN lacks any real hook.

Kristen Stewart’s casting and performance as Snow White mirrors the film as a whole. While she is beautifully shot and great to look at, she is given very little room to act. Charlize Theron does well as the Evil Queen only for as long as she remains subtle and gives dirty looks. It’s when she screams her head off (which is often), that it becomes nearly laughable. Chris Hemsworth looks the part and is certainly fun to watch while swinging around a big battle-weapon (again), but suffers from a transparent effort to be Han Solo (I’ll save the princess for money). As fun as Hemsworth is, the show is nearly stolen by the dwarves. How the filmmakers were able to convincingly shrink the likes of Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Toby Jones, Nick Frost, Ray Winstone and Eddie Marsan is a visual effects miracle which deserves some serious accolades.
For as little as the film needs to accomplish, it still feels like it’s too long; especially with its big battle scene at the finale which feels like it serves no other purpose but to provide action. There is a lot to love about SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSMAN in the visual arts, but a lot to be frustrated with in the storytelling.


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