Review: “Snow White and the Huntsman”

Fairies, dwarves, and trolls. Oddly enough, no vampires. I thought this was a Kristen Stewart movie.

In the latest installment of competitive studios banking on the same idea, “Snow White and the Huntsman” sets out to prove itself superior to this year’s other Snow White offering, “Mirror Mirror.” While the latter was a light-hearted family film, “Snow White and the Huntsman” aims more for the gothic fairy tale angle.

After an evil witch named Ravenna (Charlize Theron) takes over her father’s kingdom, Snow White (Kristen Stewart) is imprisoned in a tower. Upon escaping years later, she retreats into the dark forest where Ravenna sends the skillful Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to retrieve her. Spoiler alert: Things don’t go the way the now-queen planned.

Between the dangers of the dark forest and the more magical world of the fairies and dwarves, the film is incredibly well-designed. The darkness is darker and the light is brighter, as each scene’s design communicates the right tone.

Unfortunately, appearances can only get you so far. The film is deeply flawed once you get past the set designer’s imagination. It’s not a good sign that director Rupert Sanders’ IMDB page shows a big goose egg for previously directed features. Also, there were 3 writers working on this film who, between the 3 of them, have written maybe 2-3 good scripts.

Flaws in the writing come in all shapes and sizes. The weakest love triangle in recent memory, a cringe-worthy battle speech by Kristen Stewart and miles of loose ends inflict a lot of damage on the film as a whole. It’s hard to care for characters who are only skin deep, which is most of them.

For what it’s worth, the actors try their hardest to overcome the lackluster script. Stewart is better than her “Twilight” reputation, but that isn’t saying a whole lot. The best work is given by Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth. They are also the ones with the best backstory/development. Funny how that works.

One of the most bothersome things about the film is that there were obviously scenes cut from the finished product, some are even in the majority of trailers. Did these characters have more development left on the cutting room floor? Were storylines more conclusively drawn together? The film simply had too many unnecessary scenes. At just over 2 hours, it feels about 15-20 minutes too long already.

At the end of the day, “Snow White and the Huntsman” is a painfully average film. It’ll get you through a rainy afternoon, but it suffers the same problem many other films face these days: it is unmemorable.

Grade: C+

I’ll try to write a review for “Prometheus” in the next day or two. Watching it the other night has triggered my need to re-watch the original Alien films, and I am currently addicted to Battlestar Galactica so that’s turning me into a Netflix junkie.

Happy viewing.

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