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Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
Friday, June 1, 2012
For intense sequences of violence and action, and brief sensuality
Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, Sam Claflin, Chris Hemsworth, Ian McShane, Eddie Izzard, Bob Hoskins, Toby Jones, Eddie Marsan, Stephen Graham, Ray Winstone, Lily Cole, Sam Spruell
Hossein Amini, Evan Spiliotopoulos, Evan Daugherty
The Huntsman is ordered to take Snow White into the woods and kill her, but instead lets her go. The two are chained together as they make their escape.
Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) | Review
This Isn't Disney's Snow White
If J.R.R. Tolkien were to have had a nightmare about Snow White and her adventures, I'm pretty sure this is what that would have looked like. Now for some, that's more than enough of a reason to go see this film, and I don't blame them. It's an intriguing idea to turn the Snow White fairy tale into a sprawling, epic saga a la The Lord of Rings. There are times where this film certainly captures that spirit, and times where it tries far too hard to be Tolkienesque, which ruins things. However, that's not the only thing this movie wants to be. It also wants to be a gritty, realistic take on Snow White a la Batman Begins. Or, it wants to be a gritty, fantastical take on Snow White a la Pan's Labyrinth. Or, it wants to be a dark and serious feminist take on Snow White a la The Mists of Avalon. In short, it tries to be so many different things that it can't quite do anything really well. There are flashes of a truly great and unique spin on a well-known fairy tale, but far too often it all gets muddled under the crushing press of too many aspirations.
Perhaps the biggest problem is the movie is never quite bold enough to fully embrace some of the themes or ideas introduced and hinted at. There are some really dark and truly twisted suggestions and hints made in the movie whose implications are rather disturbing; but then it pulls back and refuse to explore them any further. This could have been a very bold, and a pretty tough to view, version of a classic fairy tale, but in the end it takes a more traditional and safe route to tell its story. That's coupled with the fact that far too often things just happen because, well, they need to. They're not an organic part of the story or a character's natural development, they're just tossed in because of necessity; no preamble, no context, stuff just happens.
Speaking of which, early in the film Snow White, while imprisoned in the tower by her evil step-mother, says the Lord's prayer (see Luke 11 or Matthew 6). It was an unexpected way to introduce the older version of the character of Snow White, although not all together surprising as this fairy tale has long had a history of Biblical parallels (the classic Disney version in particular is ripe with them). But again, nothing really comes from it. This pious expression is quickly forgotten. I once had a writing teacher tell me when writing a story, if there's a gun in it, it better go off. So here we have Snow White saying the Lord's prayer as way of demonstrating her purity and how different she is in character and beauty than her step-mother; the problem is, when the climatic battle arrives, this source of purity and character isn't represented or even mentioned in any way, shape, or form. The gun never goes off. Instead, Snow White finds strength from the "inner light", and encourages others to fan that flame. Well if that's where she's going to find the purity and goodness to overcome evil, why bother introducing her with the Lord's prayer. Is she to rely on goodness from within herself to defeat evil (which is never really good enough), or on something higher, purer, and completely outside of herself for purity and goodness? The latter would have certainly made for a bolder, far more interesting, unique take on things, whereas going with the former is the safer, well-trodden path the film chooses to follow instead. Too bad.
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