Snow White and the Huntsman: Fairly Fairytale
Happy: Snow White and the Huntsman is an undoubtedly beautiful film, as long as the obvious artifice isn’t something which would put you off, and the vast majority of the special effects are fluid and convincing in bringing the fantastical and the more prosaic together. Charlize Theron, fresh from a fairly bland turn in Prometheus, is a magnificent scenery-chewing villain as Queen Ravenna; mixing pique and pathos in an impressive and unexpectedly cohesive performance. Kristen Stewart’s non-specific English accent is far more pleasant than the melancholic burr she uses in the Twilight films and although I’d still like to see her in a film where she’s encouraged to smile she’s a passable lead.
Sleepy: The film is, unashamedly, far too long to cover the already familiar story at any kind of reasonable pace, tending to drag listlessly where scenes are allowed to run on too long. No amount of wide shots of Snow White leading her dwarves across beautiful landscapes can lend a sense of scale or significance to a film which hasn’t earned it. Similarly, the nods to prophecy and destiny and the occasional efforts to show the parochial conflict as a battle between the ultimate evil and the purest good are too sparsely interspersed to carry across their intended weight.
Doc: Despite having three credited writers, and a doubtlessly vast number of script doctors, the film retains some of the most horrendously awkward dialogue which has ever assaulted my ears. This may seem like an exaggeration, but can you imagine being spurred into battle by the line: “I would rather die today than live another day under this death.”… There’s clearly an attempt at rhetorical flourish in there, but it’s even more apparent that it’s an attempt which have failed quite badly.
Bashful: As in, “I came across all bashful because of the intimations of femdom-flavoured incest between Charlize Theron’s Queen Ravenna and her overly-tactile brother, played with an aplomb for the pathetic by Sam Spruell.”… That was, admittedly, something I hadn’t been expecting.
Dopey : The introduction of Chris Hemsworth’s Huntsman and almost all of the scenes concerning the dwarves are passably amusing, even if the casting of all regularly-sized actors is bafflingly lazy. You might also laugh at some of the aforementioned “horrendously awkward dialogue”, Chris Hemsworth’s game attempts at a Scottish(?) accent, or the moment half-way through the film where the filmmakers remember that Kristen Stewart’s hair is supposed to be black rather than brown and crank up the contrast.
Grumpy: There’s a certain “Have cake? Eat cake.” mentality to the gender politics in Snow White and the Huntsmen, with the Queen’s power and very survival built around and dependant on not just being beautiful (as some kind of normative platonic ideal) but on being the most beautiful, pitting her against the rest of her sex. This ought to be made less disturbing by the somewhat sympathetic portrayal of the harm inflicted on the Queen in her youth, but when Snow White’s role as her moral superior and nemesis is based on her innocence and purity rather than her actual virtues the fight becomes a war between two reductionist stereotypes. Add to that the group of war-widows and orphans forced to facially self-mutilate so as to be of no use or threat to the Queen, a particularly uncomfortable addition to the story, and you’re left with a sometimes uncomfortable watch.
BONUS EIGHTH DWARF: Yes, there’s an eighth dwarf. Can you guess what dramatic purpose his inclusion is there to service?