Monday, June 4, 2012
Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) - Movie Review
This year we get not one, but two, updated editions of the Snow White story. Just two months ago, we had Mirror Mirror (you can read my review here), and now we have Snow White and the Huntsman. Where Mirror Mirror was a light and silly version of the story, Snow White and the Huntsman tries to tell a darker and more violent version. Neither really deviates from the established story we're all familiar with at this point, so there's no need to go into the plot.
The good news is that Snow White and the Huntsman is a better movie than Mirror Mirror. Like Mirror Mirror, it's a great looking film. The set and costume design, along with the makeup and special effects are all top notch. There are some great looking creatures and many interesting things to look at throughout. However, while I appreciate the fact they tried to do something a little different, in a lot of ways it felt like this was just a Lord of the Rings or Narnia knockoff. Don't get me wrong, I like they made a Snow White film that focuses on those fantasy elements and brings a little more action. If their goal was to make a version that appealed to guys more, then I think they succeeded.
One of the cooler aspects of SWatH is what they did with the dwarves. They cast regular-sized actors in the roles, but through the magic of special effects shrunk them down to size. Many of them, despite being played by well known actors, were almost unrecognizable. I had to watch the credits just to make sure I was right about a few of them. Partially due to the quality of the actors playing the dwarves (Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, Toby Jones, Nick Frost, Bob Hoskins, etc.), they seemed more serious and less jokey than what we've seen in other versions of Snow White. It's unfortunate they wait so long to introduce them, as I think we're well past that halfway point before they're brought in, but they end up being one of the stronger aspects of the movie.
Charlize Theron gives it her all as Queen Revenna, but I expected nothing less. I've said it before, but it always seems like actors have more fun playing the evil character. There's more to sink your teeth into and play with emotionally. I do think Theron was just on the edge of overdoing it a bit, but she's still the most memorable performance.
I actually didn't mind Kristen Stewart for a change, despite my initial concerns that she had been miscast as Snow White. I don't know if it was from the direction or her fixing some of her tics, but she certainly seemed to cut back on the excessive blinking and shivering that's plagued her other performances. I coined the term 'chihuahua acting' a few years ago when describing what she always reminded me of. I still wish her default expression wasn't an open mouth stare, as if she's a mouth-breather. I thought she did a good job with the accent and emoting a little more, but I didn't find her character all that interesting. She's just kind of there, but I don't really blame that on her performance.
Chris Hemsworth did a good job as the Huntsman, but I felt his character was a little one-dimensional. In fact, I don't recall if they ever actually say his name during the movie other than call him 'Huntsman'. Outside of the Queen, pretty much all of the characters seemed a little flat, and you don't really learn much about them. Here's another movie where we have a trio of writers (Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock, and Hossein Amini), but somehow it all felt underwritten.
I think the lack of character development is magnified by the fact that the movie, at 127 minutes, is at least 20 minutes too long. As the movie slugs along, these flaws are magnified. We all know how the story is going to play out, so why stretch it? This is where I think director Rupert Sanders let the movie get away from him a bit. It's a good effort for a first time director though, and I'm sure he's going to get more chances after this to show what he can do. Had he tightened the run time a bit, this would have been so much better.
Overall, Snow White and the Huntsman is a great looking and fairly entertaining movie. It's flawed, but not so much that I left feeling disappointed or like I wasted my time with it. It has a broader appeal than Mirror Mirror due to it's tone and action focus. However, at PG-13, the dark and violent nature of this version might be a little too much for young kids. I put this movie in the matinee range.
3 (out or 5) - Death Stars