Review: Snow White And The Huntsman: It Could Be Worse

Kristen Stewart's Only Facial Expression
Kristen Stewart's Only Facial Expression

Snow White and the Huntsman could have been a great movie, but it kept missing the mark, over and over again, in ways that were sometimes actually embarrassing to people watching the movie.

Yes, I was embarrassed while watching this movie. Watching Kristen Stewart try to emote was quite a bit like watching a very drunk person try to sing karaoke: at first it’s funny, but then you realize how much the person wants to do a great job and impress his/her friends, and then you just end up feeling sorry for him or her. You’re left watching in horror, politely wishing you could just look away, or have a sudden heart attack and be brought the emergency room.

For most of the movie she wasn’t really called upon to act, which was a real relief to everyone. But then there were a few times, such as the end of the movie, where the camera rests on her. And rests on her. And rests on her. And she twitches. And sort of moves. And twitches. And eventually comes up with a semblance of a facial expression. And then you really want it to just stop, but it doesn’t. Awkward!

Then there’s the script, which was actually less of a problem for me. (Anything is less of a problem than Kristen Stewart’s “acting.”) There were a few clunky, awkward lines, and you could tell the writers and actors were going for that Lord of the Rings feel, but the thing is, Lord of the Rings was adapted from novels in which people said clunky, awkward things all the time, in clunky, awkward ways. LotR made it work. Star Wars made it work.

In this movie, it didn’t work. It didn’t work at all. And words that might have been made to work in the mouth of some other actress just sounded even worse coming from Stewart. One of the most embarrassing parts of the movie is her incredibly, incredibly awkward “inspirational speech.”

Now I will grant you that this is the kind of “inspiration” a girl might give if she’d been locked in a tower for ten years. I can’t really say that I’d be able to do a lot better if I hadn’t been outside for a decade.

But if she can somehow wear armor, ride a horse, and use a sword and shield after ten years of isolation in a tower… I mean, there’s a pretty big plothole right there.

And the movie also expects us to believe that there is a universe in which Kristen Stewart is “fairer” than Charlize Theron. Friends, I don’t know which universe that is, but it sure ain’t this one, and my suspension of disbelief will only go so far.

Speaking of Theron, she had fun with her role as the evil queen, and she can apparently chew scenery with the best of them, portraying fear, anger, vulnerability and evil. (It actually takes more than one facial expression to do that, Kristen!) She was fun to watch, and her over-the-top performance was about the only thing in the movie that worked.

Then there’s all these marvelous little opportunities the film just passed up on. The prince character (here, the Duke’s son) is a total non-entity, and seems to exist mostly to give the movie a pretty male face, a little more beefcake to counterbalance the cheesecake. The Huntsman is good, but the dialogue he gets is so shallow you never get any sense of what he’s really like, just that he lost his wife and he’s sad about it. That’s great, but that alone doesn’t constitute a character.

The queen is great, and when her repulsive brother is hurt she appears genuinely human for a little while.

But the repulsive brother is another inch-deep characterization. He’s evil! Because… he’s evil and stuff! Bwahahaa! By making this character more thoughtful and complex it would have given other parts of the story more meaning. Instead we were treated to a characterization so blatantly stupid it made me wonder if he was secretly practicing his evil laughter in front of a mirror every day and shopping out of the “Home Evil” catalog.

Then there’s the pacing of the film. There were so many LotR-wannabe “Look, NEW ZEALAND IS PRETTY SO LOOK AT IT OKAY?” flyovers that could have been omitted. (Actually, Snow White happened to be filmed in the UK and the US.) There were battle scenes that needed to be much, much shorter. There’s a whole bit with the dwarves that was so much like LotR that they should have to pay royalties to the Tolkien estate.

And a lot of cuts could and should have been made.

Look, LotR got away with having four separate endings because it was a six hour-plus series and it had earned them. The excruciatingly long end take of Snow White? Unearned, and also, unfortunately, bad acting.

It’s worth renting, I suppose, and the effects are cool. Watch the parts with Charlize Theron in it, and fast-forward it through the rest. You won’t miss much except the awkwardness, and believe me, that’s a good thing to miss.