Nordling Says SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN Is All Beauty And No Heart!
SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN is one of those frustrating movies that you have to whip out the Scales of Quality on – while it’s beautifully shot, has some interesting characters and a fairly engaging story, it’s saddled with some epically bad performances and a shift in tone that makes it feel a little schizophrenic. At times SNOW WHITE plays straight out of the LORD OF THE RINGS wheelhouse (complete with helicopter shots of characters walking among mountaintops), and at others Ridley Scott’s LEGEND comes to the forefront. There’s even a sequence (the best sequence in the movie, admittedly) that if it wasn’t inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s PRINCESS MONONOKE, I’ll eat my hat. If you’re going to be “inspired,” be inspired from the best.
But the two anchor performances of the movie, Kristen Stewart’s and Charlize Theron’s, are rotten to the core. I’ve come to expect bland work from Stewart – she really only seems to shine when she’s in smaller roles – but Theron’s performance is spectacularly bad. At times I wanted to say to Theron, “Why are you yelling at me? I’m right here,” as she screams at damn near everyone in the movie. A more subtle, quietly malevolent performance would have worked wonders, which brings me to believe that this was more of a director’s choice than Theron’s, as she’s done great work before. Rupert Sanders, who cut his teeth on commercials, has a keen visual sense but a lousy take on actors.
The movie has a promising start – as narrated by Chris Hemsworth – the king of the land loses his wife, and he is inconsolable, raising young Snow White on his own. But when a mysterious obsidian-shard army invades, the king sends his forces into battle and rapidly defeats them. The king’s men find a mysterious, beautiful prisoner, and the king is so smitten with her that he marries her that very day. That night, the prisoner, Ravenna, brutally murders the king in her wedding bed and assumes the throne, and throws young Snow White into the dungeon. This all plays out with a dreamlike quality, ethereal and much like the fairy tale that inspired the movie.
Ravenna, through her Magic Mirror, discovers that the only way she can truly be immortal is to take Snow White’s heart. But Snow White manages to escape the dungeon and makes her way to the Dark Forest. To track her down, Ravenna dispatches her evil brother Finn (Sam Spruell) and the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), a drunken widower who knows the Dark Forest, to bring her back. The Huntsman finds Snow White and takes pity on her; he decides to help Snow White escape her pursuers. I'd talk about Prince William (Sam Claffin) but he's almost entirely forgettable.
The first half of the movie is ponderous and slow, and I was ready to write this movie off, regardless of the terrific cinematography, until the Dwarves showed up. Character actors like Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Toby Jones, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, and Ray Winstone make up the Dwarves and through CGI trickery and stand-ins they’re all very convincing visually. They’re also given the best lines of dialogue and inject a much needed levity to the movie.
Rupert Sanders has a nice visual sense but a lousy dramatic one; why softly intone malice when you can scream your fool head off? I found myself wondering what it was like at dinner at the Wicked Queen’s house – “PASS THE SALT! HOOOOOOW WAS YOUUUUUR DAYYYYYY?!?!?” – and Stewart isn’t much better. She’s done wonderful performances before in smaller movies like ADVENTURELAND and THE RUNAWAYS, so I don’t understand why she loses the plot in these big-budget affairs. The movie almost works in spite of itself; again, the “Sanctuary” sequence, as nature comes alive (not dissimilar to how all the birds all flock to Snow White in the classic animated movie, actually) which is beautiful, striking, and very reminiscent of Ridley Scott’s work on LEGEND and Hayao Miyazaki’s in PRINCESS MONONOKE (even down to the tiny fairies). But when we get to the climactic battle, it’s pretty much the same that we’ve seen in many fantasy movies before.
Universal Studios, with this and BATTLESHIP, is off to a rough start this summer. SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN has some good things going for it, but the plot and the acting practically sink it. Go for the cinematography, stay for the Dwarves.
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June 1, 2012, 6:17 a.m. CST
June 1, 2012, 6:30 a.m. CST
Hey Nordling, At any point during the film did you have the urge to put one of Kristen Stewart's titty in your mouth?
by Dr. Francis B. Gross
Just wondering....cause personally, I'd love to suck on one of those mud flaps
June 1, 2012, 7:05 a.m. CST
Did anyone ACTUALLY believe Kristen Stewart is anything more then "that talentless chick from Twilight"?
Seriously?? She has all the expressive range of a slab of formica, and about as sexually attractive as a box of SOS brillo pads. I will be SO GLAD when we stop hearing about her, and the desperate plea for relevance finally ends
June 1, 2012, 7:39 a.m. CST
With a lesser-known cast and pared-down budget, this project might have been more of a curiosity and given a fair shake.
June 1, 2012, 8:48 a.m. CST
anyways, the trailers reminded me of "Legend" which was the only reason why I'd consider seeing this, but I wanted to wait for reviews since tickets are 10 bucks a pop.
June 1, 2012, 8:50 a.m. CST
June 1, 2012, 8:50 a.m. CST
June 1, 2012, 8:51 a.m. CST
..will at least give the Avengers extra mileage..giving us more sweet superhero movies being greenlit...hopefully Sir Rid can keep the sci-fi end up a little?
June 1, 2012, 9:10 a.m. CST
June 1, 2012, 9:54 a.m. CST
What a fucking bore that movie was. When the bet performance is by the AT&T rollover minutes kid, you know you've got problems. I had the same problem with Stewart in Adventureland as I did with that John Cusack record store movie. You've got to make me believe that the guy could (and should) be smitten with the lady he seeks. Say Anything made me believe this, 500 Days of Summer absolutely made me believe this. Kristen Stewart in Adventureland? Not for a minute did I understand why Facebook was drawn to this bland, selfish bitch.
June 1, 2012, 9:56 a.m. CST
June 1, 2012, 9:56 a.m. CST
Yet I had to stay for the credits to confirm she wasn't a dude.
June 1, 2012, 10:02 a.m. CST
then fall asleep and write the second half after you woke up? You repeat all your points about the director's lack of dramatic skill, the poor acting and the inspirations. I know talkbackers can't edit their posts, but I'm sure you are.
June 1, 2012, 10:31 a.m. CST
by eric haislar
Charlize Theron is one of the best parts of the film. this is the first time i have read anything negative about her performance.
June 1, 2012, 10:31 a.m. CST
If her army wasn't made of fucking glass.
June 1, 2012, 10:34 a.m. CST
June 1, 2012, 11:13 a.m. CST
Russell Crowe's character in "A Beautiful Mind" was schizophrenic. "Schizophrenic" does NOT mean "split personality," "of two minds," or whatever this writer (and seemingly most of the population) thinks it means.
June 1, 2012, 11:38 a.m. CST
by Admiral Nelson
Posting this again, because I simply can't get over how jaw-droppingly ignorant his review was. "Fair" means "fair complexion, not "equitable" (why the hell would an evil queen give a rat's ass about "equity?") Changing the definition of words just to fit Harry's own lack of education is just ignorant -- a dog doesn't magically become a cat just because I call it one. At the time this story was written, "light-skinned" was synonymous with "beautiful" and "pleasing to look at." Even today, people in India or China often equate light-colored skin with being more beautiful -- the darker your skin, the lower your status, because it means you have to work in the sun. It's both class and race mixed in one ugly, bigoted package.
June 1, 2012, 11:52 a.m. CST
I normally agree with you, but I cannot abide you saying Stewart was wonderful in Adventureland. I've never seen a more vacant, passionless performance than what she gives in that film. She was fine in the Runaways and i haven't seen more than 10 minutes of the Twilight film so I can't really judge but her performance in Adventureland was appaling.
June 1, 2012, 11:57 a.m. CST
Apologies!! As it's you Nordling, i will change my statement to agreeing to pretty much nothing of what you ever say, which kind of solidifies my point.
June 1, 2012, 12:46 p.m. CST
That's exactly what it means. I'll agree that the clinical definition of schizophrenia has nothing to do with split personality disorder, but as for the word itself? It literally meant "split mind" in ancient greek. So when anyone uses it as a term to describe something that is dichotomous or seemingly in contradiction with itself--they are right to do so. The more you know...
June 1, 2012, 1:56 p.m. CST
Nordling your reviews would be more fun to read if you werent constantly repeating yourself. its called editing my man.
June 1, 2012, 1:57 p.m. CST
June 1, 2012, 4:09 p.m. CST
June 1, 2012, 11:29 p.m. CST
Rather than over-the-top insanity. But then again, she clearly is mad, so... But by-in-large I thought the entire enterprise was nearly pitch-perfect and I very much enjoyed it.
June 2, 2012, 8:20 a.m. CST
Kirsten may be an obviously limited actor, where her breathing has more commitment to the moment than any line of dialogue she's delivered, and her eyes are as compelling as a dead fish. And I am totally sick of her constant pouting-moody-teenager mask. But god-damn she has specTACular legs and and a sweet ass neatly balanced on top, that even the mud stained leather in the poster can't hide.
June 3, 2012, 10:25 a.m. CST
She plays the same in all of her movies, she really really really does. With her good short ones, her "style" ends up being a good fit for the movie
But the large ones not so much
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