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Movie Review: Snow White & the Huntsman

Snow White is a fairy tale born in Europe, the most popular version being the German one collected by the Brothers Grimm in 1812 entitled Schneewittchen und die sieben Zwerge (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs). Since then lots of movies, musicals, and cartoon interpretations have been made based on the main plot.

Snow White is not my Disney princess, Belle (Beauty and the Beast) is, but 2012 has proven to be a good year for our pale-skinned princess with two movies playing on the same plot as the beloved fairy tale.

Mirror, Mirror opened in cinemas last March 2012, starring Lily Collins (Priest, The Blind Side), Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman, Erin Brokovich, Notting Hill), and Armie Hammer (The Social Network). It is a comedic rendition of the classic tale which rotates more on the point of view of the Evil Queen than glorifying the [classically weak and foolish] Princess Snow White. The story was filled with poignant, snarky lines and humorous twists (the Evil Queen (Roberts) said “…and they named her Snow White, probably because that was the most pretentious name they could think of” – and that I would wholeheartedly agree) that one would definitely not hate the Queen. She was downright amusing and the entertainment she provided bumped her evilness to second place. The cast was hands down handsome, funny, and perfect for their roles, and the Bollywood dance number in the end was a very big plus. It was also creditable that Snow White learned to handle the sword in this story, although her duel with Prince Charming (Hammer) was tad too cheesy.

Snow White and the Huntsman opened…..yesterday, June 1, and I normally wouldn’t watch a non-Marvel or non-heavy action movies on screen, but I scrambled for a ticket because I’m a big fan of fairy tale spinoffs and……okay honestly it’s all because of Chris Hemsworth (Thor, The Avengers) who plays the iconic Huntsman who was supposed to hunt down and kill Snow White (played by Kristen Stewart, better and will always be known as Bella of Twilight), on order of the evil Queen Ravennah (played by Charlize Theron and YES the evil queen gains a name in this version).

The original fairy tale says the Huntsman fell in love with Snow White, thus preventing him from taking her life, so he tells her to run away and took a boar’s innards to the queen instead. This movie was discreetly loyal to that plot – discreetly, because it doesn’t downright tells the audience that the Huntsman did fall in love with the princess (he had a wife!), although he did kiss her when she was under an evil spell…so did the Prince, of course. The movie was greatly loyal to the original tale, you see. The changes in the plot were just elaborations of details that were skipped/not included in the Grimm Brothers’ book.

The Huntsman was loyal to Snow White through and through, saving her ass a number of times, and – in a twist of screenwriting fate overdosed with Mighty Thor‘s hype – he was the one who broke the spell, not Prince William.

Now this plot twist, I do like. It was unexpected, and it’s new. Sadly, the movie decided not to give in to the audience’s plausible whim (hellooooo, who wouldn’t root for the Huntsman in this movie!?) and decided to keep Snow White mum on her choice of king. She never did get to choose any as the movie ended during her coronation ceremony which I think she does not deserve.

You see, Snow White is a loser. She is a weakling. As a woman who believes and wants to be treated as a princess, I felt horrible about the portrayal of Snow White’s character. Actually, all classic fairy tales do give this impression that damsels in distress are indeed, distressed….and useless and weak and foolish and stupid. I think that’s just wrong though, we women want and are to be treated like princesses, but we don’t have to be weak to be one.

Anyhow, going back to Snow White, she was indeed the weak link in this story, which is actually not surprising as she’s the star who has to be rescued and protected. Problem is, she was too weak the Huntsman’s character overshadowed her in this movie. Even Queen Ravennah was worth applauding for her guts and demeanor. It doesn’t help that Kristen Stewart, for me, was not convincing as a pretty gullible princess. She’s too stoic she made her dance with the dwarf Gus look sad and unenergetic. As a princess who just saw the world after years of being locked up in the tower, she should have been free-spirited and easily delighted. Not to mention it was quite stupid that she never noticed the nail at the window years and years before.

While I do acknowledge that the movie is in a darker genre than the original tale, it is not an excuse to have a Snow White that has no depth in her. I do not blame it all on Kristen, the movie did not really showcase her well, but she did nothing to take her character up a notch. Charlize Theron, however, was regal, and Chris Hemsworth just nailed it. I personally want to rename the movie The Huntsman because it WAS all about him. Snow White can be easily ignored and the writers knew it, so they have this repetitive declaration from different scenarios that she IS “the one” that will save the kingdom. She didn’t do a lot of saving, believe me. The Huntsman did.

Queen Ravennah, in this movie, is unlike every other evil queens of lore. She had a purpose, she had a reason for revenge, she had a reason to be evil. Unfortunately, it does not clearly connect why she would want eternal youth and beauty for revenge, and just when would her revenge be complete. Yes, she thinks men are greedy beings who easily fall prey to beauty, but how many kingdoms does she intend to overcome? And which weighed more in her plight for revenge – eternal beauty or majestic power? Nonetheless, the evil queen, for the first time in the revision of Snow White’s tale, is not just a vain being, and that is an added plus to this movie.

Now, the Huntsman….well, I do think he’s the real star of the movie, and it’s not because he’s played by Chris Hemsworth. He does deserve being included in the title, the Huntsman was easily someone you would root for and follow and watch. In this movie, as I said earlier, he had a wife whom he lost, and Snow White reminded him of her a lot that he pledged to protect Show White. He thought he failed the princess and gave her a kiss which broke the spell.

In the fairy tale, after Prince Charming kissed Snow White they lived happily ever after. Not in this movie. There were no exchange of vows or sweet words or affections between the princess and the one who broke the spell.

While I was hoping that the Huntsman would be crowned King alongside Queen Snow White, what I was expecting did not disappoint. It was an open-ended story. It’s frustrating, but it was deliberately done to, in a way, redeem the plot to what has already been set, what has already been known, what has already been told. Snow White and the Huntsman is not a reinterpretation of the fairy tale, it’s just a retelling, a replay of what has already been written, of what was tradition. And according to tradition, the Huntsman never became the King, and the kingdom of Snow White lived happily ever after.

So should you watch it? Yes.

In the cinemas? If you’re patient enough to wait for a DVD copy (or a torrent), then just wait for it. I still stand by my belief that if it’s not an action movie, or a movie that has lots of intricate effects, then a torrent copy would suffice for me…and this is one of those kind of movies, although there are no regrets on my part watching it on the bigscreen because Chris Hemsworth made it all worth it….NOT because I’m a fangirl, but because he pulled those stunts excellently you’d wish you were Snow White instead.

I’d give the movie a 3.8 out of 5, for the effects, the costumes, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron, and the landscapes.

As per comparison with Mirror, Mirror, I say drop it, because they are two completely different versions. Snow White and the Huntsman just earns a bit more credit because of its A-list cast, the effects, and the war sequence. Plus, Snow White and the Huntsman is no cutesy tale, and I think the world has had enough of cheesy flicks.

About klacenklai

Klarizza Jose is a landscape architect by day, dreamer and digital artist by night, and is in an on-again off-again relationship with coffee.

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All illustrations, drawings, photos and content are © Klarizza Jose unless otherwise stated. Please do not download, copy, alter, distort, and use without permission. For inquiries please send me an email at klacenklai@gmail.com.
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