I loved SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSMAN. There are nitpicks. I think the Duke’s son is a waste of a character. The obsidian shard creatures are without personality or real menace to me. And I still love Walt Disney’s original animated classic as being the fairest in the land… BUT – I still love SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSMAN.
There will be a division on the film – and that division will officially set up shop discussing the merits & faults of Kristen Stewart. My nephew thought the Evil Queen was more beautiful than Snow White – and he is right. But the question the mirror answers isn’t who’s the most badass babe in the land, it’s “Who’s the fairest in the land?”
Going back to the original Walt Disney adaptation – upon which we have all been raised. Heigh-Ho was my first favorite song – according to this record my father had of asking me what my favorite things were every year of my life. HEIGH-HO won 3 years straight. To be unseated by RAMBLIN’ MAN. Then PINBALL WIZARD. I was an odd kid, still am. BUT in that original SNOW WHITE & THE SEVEN DWARVES, I always thought the Evil Queen was hotter than Snow White.
For me, the story of SNOW WHITE is not about a vanity contest, it’s about who is the fairest in the land. I defined that word, not with a dictionary and not by explanation from adults. This thought process of mine is entirely mine.
The Evil Queen is in fact EVIL. Evil is notably unFAIR EVIL kills our parents, takes our loved ones, turns the land to ash and starves children. EVIL sucks the beauty out of virginal hotties. EVIL wants to rip out SNOW WHITE’s heart and consume it. All of this is notably unfair.
I also have never particularly felt that the EVIL QUEEN’s mirror was particularly SERVING HER. Genies and magical sentient creatures are notably bastards to the people that possess and bark out commands to the enslaved all-powerful beings trapped inside of these objects. I always thought that the slave in the mirror told the Evil Queen that SNOW WHITE was the fairest in the land… because the mirror knows that this knowledge is actually the Queen’s undoing. That her vanity is her undoing, something that I think a mirror spirit would be the greatest juror ever about that particular subject.
The MIRROR sees all and yet – I don’t feel the mirror is lying to the Queen. SNOW WHITE is the fairest in the land. “FAIREST” to me is more about a person’s disposition, overall beauty and lastly… the gentle kindness of SNOW WHITE.
NOW – let’s discuss the two women playing opposites here.
Charlize Theron, since I first saw her in the trailer for 2 DAYS IN THE VALLEY has been one of those mighty cinematic fantasies that is just impossible to shake. Charlize is sexual, intelligent, smolderingly hot. She is constantly aware of her hotness, but in this role, she plays the Queen as fragile & fleeting beauty. Like in a lot of Witch stories, each use of her magic saps her beauty. For me, Charlize’s dip into the cake ball frosting bath… god damn that’s hot. It just is. She’s a modern woman trapped in a period of misogyny and outright demeaning treatment of women – and she is blind to her own monstrousness… as she’s far more obsessed with the general awesome of being Charlize Theron and treating men as they would treat her. AS she should, mind you.
Kristen Stewart. It’s so easy to be a hater. People love picking on her, but having seen everything she’s done, I like her. ADVENTURELAND was the film where I fell for her as a lead actress. As SNOW WHITE – I absolutely get her. This is a girl who lost her mother and father, the queen and king, when she was just a little girl. Her evil step mother literally KILLED her father. And locked her in a tower from the age of like 10 till she reached her Kristen Stewartness. In that time, she was apparently not abused, but was locked in a tower. So when she makes her escape and goes off into the world, snorts some strange dark forest hallucinogenics, meets Thor, then runs into Dwarves that – I have to say – it’s the most whimsically awesome use of visual effects I’ve seen in a very long time and it was absolutely unmistakably killer. But back to Stewart… Throughout the film she wanders off led by curiosity, again this is to her spirit. When a character is dying, the grace and comfort she gives that character is otherworldly. The Dwarves sense it, it’s not just how Kristen Stewart acts, but how she makes characters act just when she’s near. They become better people. She brings that out of them, makes them feel more alive. Within the Disney-Fantasy-verse we refer to these things as Princess Powers. She does get a bit Warrior Princess on us, but she’s allowed by that point. She still regrets every blow, like Bruce Lee. She has a lack of confidence, but then, she had been locked in a tower as guards stared at her since the age of 10. I’m sure that would make her conversation skills rather dazzling. No, I think Kristen Stewart is playing her just right. She’s weathered imprisonment dazzlingly.
Then there’s Chris Hemsworth aka THE HUNTSMAN aka THOR… Excuse me while I lay on the side of the bed with my legs kicking up behind me, because I just adore Chris Hemsworth. The guy is sculpted to be heroic. In fact, just watching this film – you can believe that this is actually in fact THOR. You know, like one of those times where Thor really pissed off his Dad and he was banished to Earth with no memory and he had to suffer a human life until he had attained the proper enlightenment when again he would become the God of Thunder, THOR! He’s a drunkard. He is a man of grief. Since the death of the king, the world has gone to rot. He is motivated by personal gain, but as the story continues that changes – not abruptly, but gradually.
This is all magic shit. You know how in EXCALIBUR, if the king was sick the land would wither. This film subscribes to that kind of magic lieges. I love that. When you see the various areas of this land we explore… the flora and fauna are truly imaginative. They do faeries and they do not suck. The one on the bunny made me smile big enough to produce a single tear. It was just a perfect fantasy image.
There’s something just so adorable about the dwarves and it is not at all weird to me. It’s completely pulled off. Seeing Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, Ian McShane as Dwarves was just sublimely perfect. There’s a shot of Chris Hemsworth’s Huntsman kind of sharing a shoulder with Dwarf Ian McShane and it’s just perfect. The eye contact, the physical contact… it is an effortless visual effect, but if you think about what you’re seeing you know… THAT CAN NOT BE REAL. Loved it. I love the Dwarf songs. You believe that this gaggle of Dwarves are friends. Their charisma together is just wondrous. I was never not smiling with them on screen.
I got drunk on the atmosphere and creeps of the world this film takes place in. The initial Dark Forrest stuff is great, but the Sanctuary stuff is the best. To enjoy this film to it’s fullest, I found it was as simple as just sitting back and letting the tale be told. The visuals and key performances just work to sell this fantasy world.
You’ll see some critics trying to equate this film to things like EXCALIBUR & PAN’S LABYRINTH or Ridley Scott’s LEGEND. I think the film succeeds better in many ways than LEGEND, but those other two films are far and away better. And nothing in this is as great as Tim Curry’s DARKNESS. But make no mistake, there’s no threat to EXCALIBUR’s pure perfect awesomeness. EXCALIBUR is a thoroughly adult fantasy film. SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSMAN is just intense family entertainment. There’s a number of better films in the genre. I love LABYRINTH, the Henson one. DARK CRYSTAL. There’s even a part of me that still prefers LEGEND, though that is just such a stunningly beautiful film that is utterly a confusing jumble as a story. Still love it though.
For me, the best thing about the film is that we have a new director to track. Rupert Sanders has done a fantastic job with this film. I’m wildly curious to see what this guy does next. The atmosphere on this film is so thick you can cut it with a butter knife and spread it on bread. The DP was Greig Fraser, who did a great job shooting LET ME IN. Greatest mistake for me in the film? Not having that Troll come lend a hand for that end battle. I just wanted more of that amazing Troll. It’s just fantastic.
On my way out of the theater, a little girl and her family were walking behind me and the little 6-8 year old girl proudly declared that she wasn’t scared at all in the movie and that she’s brave. That’s exactly how this film should play for little girls – it’s a wonderful fantasy princess tale! The film is flawed, but the vision of the movie kind of demands to be seen in ideal situations on a big screen.