Looking at my extremely low score for Snow White and the Huntsman, you'd think that I am a absolute hater of all-things fairy tales and believe they're a waste of time, but that's not true. Most of the fairy tales told on screen have been a great teaching tool to children of each generation, with adaptations made by Disney being some of the strongest in the genre, including Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, and most recently Frozen. But many studios (including Disney) has the kick in wanting to create darker, gritty adaptations of these classic tales, and so far, there's been mixed results (good, Oz the Great and Powerful, Alice in Wonderland; bad, what I'm about to review). As suggested already, Snow White and the Huntsman is in the bad end on the dark fairy tale craze, and it's one of the most disappointing blockbusters of all-time I might add.
Imprisoned in a tower for years after the brutal death of her father, Snow White (Kristen Stewart) is determined to avenge his murder. But his murderer, the wicked queen Ravena (Charlize Theron), jealous of Snow's extreme beauty, is determined to kill her in extreme measures to maintain beauty and hires a huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to do her bidding. But the huntsman ends up on Snow's side, and the two gain a following, including seven dwarves (which includes Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, and Bob Hoskins), to defeat the queen for good.
When I first heard that a darker Snow White was going to be made, I was initially excited about the project, but that was when Angelina Jolie was rumored for the wicked queen and Viggo Mortensen was cast as the huntsman. But when those plans fell through, and Kristen Stewart (one of the worst actress of all-time) cast as Snow White, my expectations went from really high to extremely low. And even with these super low expectations, I still really hated the film.
The fault of the film has to do mostly with director Rupert Sanders, which was his directorial debut. With his inexperience with directing big-budget films, his direction is all over the place. It seems that he had no idea where he wanted to go when making the film. On one side, it goes for an epic, LOTR vibe and goes into a Twilight love vibe on the other, and the mixture plagues the film big time. Because of this, it was hard to take the film seriously. I liked the idea of a LOTR-styled fairy tale, and I admit the opening battle scene was pretty cool, but the action got extremely dull and generic throughout. Bringing a love story on the Twilight scale is never a good sign, especially with Kristen Stewart on board, and the romantic love triangle is yet another misfire in Hollywood film.
The storyline is also extremely idiotic which brings the Hollywood blockbuster to extreme absurdity, and much of these moments is just sheer stupidity. In one moment Snow and the huntsman are attacked by a "dangerous" troll and Snow gets rid of it just by screaming at it. I know, idiotic, right? Another moment has the queen turning into birds after the huntsman swings an axe into her body, which makes absolutely no sense. There's also a battle scene that involves the huntsman fighting pieces of glass! I'M NOT JOKING! BROKEN PIECES OF GLASS!!! And in a scene that is taken out of 2001 absurdity, the queen takes a bath and turns white. This could have very well been called Snow White: The Film Stanley Kubrick Never Made. This is about as absurd as the idiotic moments presented in 2001, and I'm pretty much angered by how awful this film was.
One thing that was OK about the film was its cinematography, which was decently designed for its intentions, but what ruins it is the extremely horrific CGI, which again, dumbs down the greatness of the technology perfected in Avatar and Jurassic Park. I'm serious, there's CGI snakes that looked like it could have been in a low-budget B-movie. Also disappointing is how "dark" the story is. One scene that's really atrocious is Snow White's freak encounter in the creepy forest, which is not the creepfest that you'd expect in the story. You know that the film is a guaranteed failure when Walt Disney's depiction of the creepy forest was absolutely frightening and scarier than this! And Walt's version was a cartoon I might add!
Speaking of the story, some of the changes adapted to create a darker Snow White story fails miserably. Aside from dumbing down the scary nature of the dark forest, the magic mirror now looks like a symbol from a percussion set (and another thing that seemed to come out of the Stanley Kubrick library a la 2001), the dwarves are dumbed down to complete idiots that don't add any depth to the story, the poisoned apple is made just as an addition to the plot rather than actual tragedy (Disney's cartoon does it to where you almost want to cry, this makes you want to throw a brick at your TV in anger), and Snow White becomes an action star. While I'm definitely not against woman heroes in film, and there are some great female action heroes on film (with some of my favorites being Princess Leia, Katniss, and Black Widow), Snow White wasn't intended to use a weapon in combat, and it comes out as awkward to me.
James Newton Howard's score is another disappointing factor. While there were some solid rock themes, it seems out of place for a fairy tale film. He's had some good scores in his career, but this isn't one of them.
And what really hurts the film is its near-atrocious acting. Don't get me wrong, I like Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, and Ian McShane, but their great talent is extremely wasted as some of the dwarves. Especially when these legendary characters didn't have much to do in this adaptation. It's a shame that Hoskins ended his acting career with this film too I might add. Not a great film to end a career on, makes you wish that Hoskins lived longer enough for Robert Zemeckis to make the long-rumored Who Framed Roger Rabbit sequel. I give credit for Charlize Theron for having a menacing, ruthless appeal going on as the wicked queen, but even Theron couldn't save the film. Sam Clafin does his usual blandness in his dull role as the prince, though he was able to prove he can actually act as Finnick in The Hunger Games franchise. Chris Hensworth, though a talented actor, especially as Thor, is absolutely miscast here. He gets the action right, but his role is very generic and his Scottish accent is atrocious. He's basically Thor but without a heart to it. I don't even think Hemsworth had any fun at making the film; he doesn't even show it.
The real painkiller is Kristen Stewart as Snow White. Like with her other horrific role in those Twilight films, Stewart really outdoes herself in poor acting. Her attempt in making a British accent is deserving of a Razzie (which she won that year for the Twilight movie she did in 2012), and has zero charisma of what made Snow White a good character to begin with. With Stewart in the role, you just wish that Snow White just died after eating the apple. Nuff said.
So in the end, Snow White and the Huntsman is a absolute insult to film and all of cinema. Its plotting is confused and absurd, the direction is atrocious, the acting is near-horrific, the film is not as scary as one would believe (only a newborn baby would find this scary), and the visuals are pure garbage. With the film making decent success at the box-office, I fear what other material Rupert Sanders is going to butcher next. Taking a line out of Diego Tutweiler's unique reviews, Snow White and the Huntsman is easily my choice for "the rape of the natural world". One of the worst films of all-time.
"I would rather die today than live another day of this death. "
My thoughts exactly.