“Snow White and the Huntsman” is that other Snow White movie, the second one this year that’s based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale but the first one to put its princess heroine in a suit of armor.
You also could think of “Snow White and the Huntsman” in other terms: a motion picture that stars Kristen Stewart but (spoiler alert!) does not involve any bed-destroying honeymoon scenes; the other summer 2012 blockbuster featuring Thor (Chris Hemsworth); or that movie in which Charlize Theron yells a lot. All of these descriptions would be accurate.
After all the buzz leading up to the battle between the two “Snow Whites,” surely you have questions about “Huntsman” now that the film is finally in theaters. And I intend to answer those questions — or at least the questions that I made up because I think you might ask them — via the following Q&A. (Note: There are a few spoilers ahead, so proceed with caution, unless you’ve already seen “Snow White and the Huntsman” or don’t care about spoilers because you have no intention of ever seeing it.)
Let’s just cut to the chase. Is this movie good or bad?
It’s one of those somewhere-down-the-middle movies. Some critics didn’t like it at all — The Washington Post’s Michael O’Sullivan gave it one star and called it “a virtual orchard of toxic excess.” Others were more positive. The current Rotten Tomatoes rating reflects that split, with “Snow White” carrying a 50%-fresh setting on the Tomatometer. I felt more negative than positive about this one; some of the visual images — like the soldiers in a shadow army who shatter into shards of ebony glass when struck — were compelling. But some of the performances, most notably Theron’s, were off the mark, and the film was at least a half-hour too long.
Wait, Charlize Theron wasn’t amazing as the evil queen?
Well, that depends on your perspective. If you define terrific acting as bellowing a lot and over-enunciating one’s dialogue so that it’s very clear to everyone in the audience that your character is eeee-vil, then this is the performance of the decade so far. Or to put it in the words of Nell Minow at Beliefnet: “When it is time for her to get ferocious she is all eye-rolls and screeches, a bad version of Carol Burnett doing Norma Desmond.” Yes, that pretty much covers it.
Don’t worry, though, Theron will recover. She’s a good actress who just took a misstep here. Plus, she’s in another movie that comes out a week from now that I suspect will be better received than this one.
Fine. What about Kristen Stewart? Is she better here than she is in the “Twilight” movies?
I think she is, if only because she gets to do more than wander around looking confused about Edward and Jacob. It’s not an Oscar-worthy performance or anything, but she seems more confident in this film than in some of her others. Like Theron, she also gets to shout, particularly during a “Braveheart”-esque, let’s rally-the-troops monologue that made me think, “Wow, Bella’s become a somewhat effective motivational speaker.” Which isn’t the same thing as effectively transporting me to another place and making me believe Stewart is her character. But it’s something.
Did this movie remind you of “The Hunger Games” in any way?
I’m so glad you asked. Yes, weirdly, it did. Plot-wise, it’s obviously radically different. But there were certain elements — the presence of bows-and-arrows; the super-strong female protagonist; the fact that said super-strong female protagonist is somewhat torn between two men, one of whom is a Hemsworth; the gross consumption of squirrel parts — that gave me “Hunger Games” flashbacks.
Also, in another movie deja vu moment, the Huntsman and Snow White have to battle a troll that reminded me of the white ape from “John Carter.” I mean, I’m not saying they’re the same guy or anything. But it’s possible they share a CGI mother.
Does anyone in this movie get to bathe in milk? Because I only see summer movies that involve milk baths, which, as you might imagine, severely limits my viewing options.
Good news! Theron totally dunks herself in a milky white substance that makes her look an evil blonde bombshell dipped in white chocolate. You’re all set.
Terrific. Also, are there any scenes in this movie in which white horses are just randomly lounging around just waiting for Kristen Stewart to ride them in a time of desperate need?
Are you sure you haven’t already seen this? Because there is a scene in “Show White and the Huntsman” that is exactly like that, and it made everyone in the screening I attended start snickering.
Personally, I don’t see what was so funny about it. Just yesterday when I left my office, there was a white horse* sitting outside The Washington Post who conveniently allowed me to hop on, then galloped all the way to Montgomery County, which saved me a ton of money on gas. (Did you know that horses can run red lights without those traffic cameras catching them? It’s true.)
This sort of thing happens to regular people every day, so to me that was “Huntsman” at its most authentic.
*Fine, I’m lying. It wasn’t a white horse. It was a fuchsia unicorn.
Be honest: Who has the worst haircut in this movie?
Oh, that’s an easy one. That’s Sam Spruell, who plays Finn, the creepy, subservient brother of Theron’s queen, Ravenna. In keeping with the fine tradition of weird and/or dastardly male characters with pageboy haircuts (see Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men,” or Johnny Depp in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”), Spruell sports a pageboy that is so severe, it makes my scalp hurt to look at it.
So, in conclusion, if I only see one “Snow White” movie in my entire lifetime, which one should it be?
That’s easy. The Walt Disney one. Sure, it doesn’t have battle scenes like “Snow White and the Huntsman” does, or Julia Roberts dressed like a peacock, as “Mirror, Mirror” did. Admittedly, its Snow White is too passive and wussy (“Someday My Prince Will Come?”... oy, raven-haired one.) But the animated universe she inhabits contains something that “Snow White and the Huntsman” can’t conjure despite the literal presence in the film of both fairies and their dust: magic.