You’ve seen the commercials and the trailers with the dazzling special effects, sinister stares, and frenzied fighting. Snow White and the Huntsman looks like a masterpiece from the outside, but looking carefully into the mirror on the wall reveals that there is more to this movie and it is not pretty. My scrutiny actually resulted in 7 reasons for you not to bother with this year’s second twist on the classic fairy tale (see my review of Mirror Mirror). I’ll spare you the synopsis.
- The cinematography is visually arresting and even breathtaking, but often for no reason at all. Why do the mushrooms have eyes? It is quite Tim Burton-esque, but not in a fun way. Why is the Queen (a fierce Charlize Theron) taking a bath in stuff that resembles milk of magnesium? She does look just like a chess piece when she re-emerges from the goo ad that is kind of neat, but what was the purpose of the scene? Aside from the Dark Army soldiers that are made of what appears to be metal pieces manipulated by magnets, most elements seem to be in the film purely for show. Director Rupert Sanders focuses too much on making the visual effects the star without ensuring that the final product is cohesive. And honestly, I didn’t see many special effects in this movie that weren’t in the music videos for Madonna’s “Frozen” and Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”
- The seven dwarves bring a little joy to the proceedings, but not much. And except for the oldest one with his Yoda-like proverbs and advice, it was impossible to distinguish between them.
- Lackluster does not even begin to describe the depths to which Kristen Stewart’s performance sinks. She pulls a Beyoncé and manages to chip away at any credibility or quality present in the majority of her scenes. From her constipated “Edward?” stare to her incessant bosom-heaving (there are literally 30-second stretches of time where all she does is breathe heavily), all the little quirks that have made her acting in the Twilight series seem like a colossal joke show up in Snow White. Her failures to capture the gravitas of Snow White’s predicament range from infuriating to laugh-out-loud hilarious.
- Of course, Bella…I mean, Kristen Stewart is not completely to blame for her terrible performance, which brings us to reason #4. The dialogue is choppy and cheesy and is even more problematic since the film is so sleek and modern. The writing should be above the typical pitfalls of fairy tale remakes and keep up with the art direction, but it falls flat and makes what should be a thrilling experience a boring mess.
- It’s not only what you say – it’s how you say it. The accents are ridiculous. Are they in Scotland? Ireland? England? It depends on which actor is speaking.
- Chris Hemsworth as The Huntsman was just Thor with an axe instead of a hammer. I am all for spending money to see either Hemsworth run around and be extraordinary and masculine, but there is no point in seeing Snow White when you can just watch Chris run around in less clothing in The Avengers. I was much more impressed by William (Sam Claflin), an archer who could make Katniss Everdeen nervous.
- The ending is completely anti-climactic. Before I get complaints about spoilers, every person who has heard of Snow White knows that the Evil Queen does not triumph, and this film takes the same tack. After over an hour of mind-blowing effects and being convinced that no other evil stepmother is as insanely gifted in badassery than the Queen, Snow White simply spars with her for a little while until her boring, silent death. The Dark Army returns briefly to keep the supporting cast from joining in on the fight, but their reappearance seemed desperate somehow. It was as if the art directors jumped in and shouted, “Hey! We’re still doing cool things!” Unfortunately, it was too little, too late.
I sincerely hope that after this debacle, Hollywood will leave this fairy tale in the Disney vault for a while.
Final Grade: D+