Snow White And The Huntsman
It’s a gorgeous-looking movie. It certainly does what it can to appeal to both genders, the acting is solid if not spectacular, and there is enough modification on the classic to make it surprising at times, but it could definitely use some tightening. This movie does not need to be over 2 hours. Some more consistency around the messaging might be useful too. Please note this review will be heavy on spoilers.
First to Kristen Stewart - as I wrote a few weeks ago after seeing the film, she does not bite her lip, not once, the entire time. There is a lot of loud breathing though but given that she’s being pursued by a psychopath through most of the movie, it’s kind of understandable. Stewart IS Snow White. I mean there’s no question. It’s more than just her beauty, which is undeniable, but a convincing steadiness of character. Snow White represents all that’s redeemable in humanity, everything worth fighting for, she is the hope and the promise, and Stewart doesn’t shirk from that responsibility in her performance; in fact she wears it rather well. After a while though, especially in the land of the magic garden - you’ll see - it’s gets to be a little Mariah Carey meets The Matrix, with all the “She’s The One” adulation, in hyper technicolour surrounded by butterflies. For real.
As for Charlize Theron, here’s where I was maybe slightly underwhelmed. She looks the part, obviously, and the costumes are magnificent, and I believe that she is pure black inside because they do a great job explaining to me how she became that way - it’s like Fatal Attraction on tilt - but her Evil Queen is way, way too shouty. You know how evil can be equally as effective when it’s still and silent than when it’s all up in your face, screaming at the top of her lungs? Charlize does a lot of screaming. Too much screaming and not enough deadly monotone...which, at times, takes you out of the moment because it’s so jarring - you’re like, bitch, control yourself - and I have to think this is less about her than about the direction she was given on how to play it. There are times when she goes off, for the 3rd or 4th time, that you wonder whether or not the slaves who are there to serve her might be rolling their eyes, like here we go again, she’s about to lose it. It takes away from the fear, you see?
The one who steals the movie is the dude who plays the Queen’s creepy perverted brother. He’s terrifyingly mesmerising in every scene. Who is this Sam Spruell? I am afraid of him.
But the battle scenes are impressive. I can’t get enough of Stewart on horseback. She said it’s not where she lives, that she’s very uncomfortable, but the way it’s presented in the film, she rides like she’s been doing it her whole life, and seeing her, with so much determination on that small face and her tiny little body almost falling out of her armour, leading thousands of men in the fight, it’s so endearing it’s irresistible. And it makes up for the weird pacing that comes before it.
That’s essentially what Snow White And The Huntsman is - great drama followed by flatness, over and over again, so that it never lives up to its potential. The movie feels... inexperienced. And, frankly, most importantly, it lacks commitment when it counts.
We are led to believe, after all, that this Snow White is all girl power fist pumps. Great! Through most of it, I am down with that as we watch her grow into her strength and her courage. But love is important too, right? Of course. Which is why she is ultimately saved by true love’s kiss, worthy of it by the gentle sould that, naturally, sets her apart from her adversary. And then, armed with new life and fulfilled in her heart, she rallies her people, inspiring them to join her in her quest, to be her “brothers”, to charge onwards together, side by side. It’s a wonderful sequence, and at this point, the bra burner in me was happily satisfied...
Until she wins. Of course she wins. She wins (using a move that her lover taught her so, again, there’s a nod to the importance of love and companionship in her life) and Ravenna, the Evil Queen, is defeated; Snow White is finally returned to her rightful place on the throne. This is where we find her at the very end, as she’s being coronated (is this a word?) before her people, her loyal subjects, for whom she was prepared to die, and who would die in her defence, and there’s an expression on her face...
Despite all that she’s achieved, it’s not quite enough.
She looks ...unsteady.
Let’s recap, shall we?
Snow White has just come back to life, touched by love, a magic so much more powerful than any dark art the Evil Queen could summon. She valiantly storms the castle, inspires her army, triumphs against a seemingly insurmountable opponent, restores the kingdom to its former glory, brings happiness back to the citizens, and somehow...
Something is still missing.
Cut to Kristen Stewart, the crown atop her head, holding on to a medieval scepter, surrounded by her supporters, all of them looking at her with adulation, loyal every last one of them to the fairest Queen of them all, and she’s....
Unsure, hesitant, INCOMPLETE.
Until Chris Hemsworth, her true love, the one who kissed her, rounds the corner. They make eye contact. And finally an expression confidence and peace settles onto her face. The END.
That’s the lasting image we are left with in a movie that’s supposed to be about so-called Girl Power? After all she’s accomplished, in the end, it was nothing until she was validated by her man? But Lainey, doesn’t Snow White need love? We all need love. And she got love in the form of a restorative kiss which should satisfy the people who argue for the presence of romance. But you don’t need to shove it in my face at the very end to undermine what she’s achieved as the Woman Warrior. And you certainly don’t need to make it the final shot in the film, as if to say, oh but all this it was nothing until Snow White and Her Boyfriend confirmed that they were in love with each other.
Why couldn’t he be part of the congregation assembled before her at the ceremony? After all, when she calls them to battle, he’s one of hundreds of soldiers who takes a knee at her command. It’s not like he hasn’t already acknowledged her position, her power, her strength. Instead, in removing him from the group, singling him out as the one whose approval she sought before she could truly enjoy her crowning, you not only make him her equal, you PUT HIM ABOVE HER...
Two good hours of “you go girl” only to be undone by 30 seconds of conformity.
It’s incredibly frustrating.
Some of you are likely rolling your eyes. God Lainey, why do you have to be a crusader about every f-cking thing? Because these are the symbols that undermine a message. If this movie had no thesis, no intended objective to portray a new kind of fairy tale princess, fine, no problem, let’s go ahead and eat up the Disney stereotypes and not complain. But this was their goal. This is what they kept saying over and over and over again - our Snow White is a new badass heroine for the times.
She reclaimed her kingdom but she’s needed her boyfriend to make it whole - are you telling me you’ve never seen that girl before? That’s the problem. I’ve seen her before. They promised me someone else.
Still...at least there’s no love triangle.
I look forward to reading your thoughts. See the movie, then email me!
Attached - Kristen Stewart arriving in New York yesterday.