Friday, June 01, 2012

Madam’s Apple: “Snow While & the Huntsman” is an Entertaining Fairy Tale Update


The last thing I want out of a movie is a boring fantasy with strange creatures and magical beings. It took me several viewings to get what the big fuss was about with “Harry Potter.” Which is why it’s with great surprise that I found “Snow White and the Huntsman” to be a fun, more action-oriented retelling of the classic fairy tale. While comparisons to the animated Disney classic are inevitable, no such comparisons should really even be made. This is just “Snow White” for the “Lord of the Rings” crowd, or rather people who may not otherwise really care about this classic story that everyone knows all too well. While the film has its flaws (eye-rolling dialogue and a few lackluster performances) it remains a showcase for one person and one person only: Charlize Theron, who blissfully (and in a rather campy way) steals the movie away from those around her with her wickedly good portrayal of the Evil Queen.

If you’re not a fan of Kristin Stewarts moping as seen in the Twilight movies, this film probably won’t make you a fan. She’s better here as Snow White than her bland Bella role, but not much. The script (by Evan Daughtery, John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini) attempts to give her more of a personality and a sense of independence and defiance but she still isn’t given all that much to do. And neither is the “Huntsman” played by Chris Hemsworth. He’s just there to look burly and dirty and fight things. Although in the end, she does suit up in armor (including a rather horrible “rousing” pre-battle speech) to fight for her rightful place as Queen (more on that later). But those are silly nitpicks. This is really just a fun fairy tale turned action-movie and in that regard the movie works.

The story of course is rather familiar. A woman basically seduces the King, he falls in love with her, marries her, and then she kills him so she can take over his kingdom. He has a beautiful daughter who makes the Queen, named Raveena, jealous so she locks her away in a dark tower. She even uses her pathetic Finn (Sam Spruell) to get what she wants. This royal beauty is of course Snow White (Stewart) with the fairest skin in the land and lips as red as a rose. But Snow White escapes into the forest and the Queen’s magic mirror says that in order for the Queen to stay young and beautiful she must consume Snow White’s heart. And people say The Human Centipede is gross. The Queen of course is played by the astonishingly talented Charlize Theron. She consumes the role and is just simply exquisite. The role and performance almost borders on the edge of camp, and it actually works. When the film decides to follow Snow White as she makes her adventure through the forest (and meeting some impressively rendered dwarves) with the Huntsman (Hemsworth) on her tail, I felt like the movie suffered. I was way more invested in the Queen’s lust for beauty than Show White’s endeavors to evade capture. There’s also a prince in there somewhere.

First-time director Rupert Sanders has made the film a visual wonder. The cinematography, the costumes, the production design, and the visual effects are all superb. It has a surprisingly epic look and feel. But it’s really just a summer action movie for those who like action and for those who like romance. “Snow White & the Huntsman” tries to please everyone and I’d say in that regard it’s pretty successful. But don’t take it too seriously or attempt to deconstruct what you’re seeing, because then you’ll just find that deep down it’s really just a bad apple, but it’s at least worth taking a bite.  GRADE: B+

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