Sunday, September 23, 2012

DVD: Snow White and the Huntsman

"I will give this wretched world the queen it deserves!"

I missed this movie when it was in theaters mainly because of the mixed reviews and after watching it I too have mixed feelings.Rupert Sander's screen adaptation of Grimm's fairytale, Snow White is characterized by a great storyline, good special effects and by some sub-par performances.

The story opens with King Magnus and Queen Eleanor wishing for the birth of a daughter. The Queen's wish is granted and she gives birth to a baby girl whom they name, Snow White. However, shortly after, the Queens sickens and dies, leaving King Magnus broken-hearted. For several years, Snow White lives happily in the castle along with her friend, William while her father remains unmarried.

Soon King Magnus finds his kingdom under a strange threat. He is called to do battle with another unknown kingdom, and upon arriving at the battlefield discovers a blackened wasteland and a dark army that is easily destroyed. Hidden behind the enemy is a wagon containing a beautiful, captive young woman, Ravenna. Lovestruck by her beauty, King Magnus takes Ravenna back to his kingdom, where he weds her the next day. But unknown to the King, he has admitted to his realm, a dark, overpowering evil. Ravenna murders her husband on their wedding night, opens the doors to the castle, allowing her dark soldiers to overrun it, murdering all the inhabitants, except one. Snow White is spared and placed in a tower prison where she grows to womanhood.

Meanwhile we learn that Ravenna sucks the youth and beauty out of young women and that she is very old. One day she learns from her Magic Mirror, that consuming the heart of Snow White will make her immortal. She sends her brother, Finn, to retrieve Snow White from her prison, but the young woman manages to flee with the help of some birds, into the Dark Forest. Unable to track her further, Ravenna enlists the help of a huntsman, whom she tricks into tracking the princess by offering to bring his dead wife to life again.

However, when the huntsman realizes that he has been tricked and that Snow White is to be murdered, he defends her and helps her to escape. Through a series of journeys, the Huntsman and Snow White travel to Duke Hammond's castle to try to convince them to take up arms against Ravenna. The Duke's men ride back to the castle and this leads to the final confrontation between Snow White and Ravenna.

There are some aspects I truly loved about this movie. One of them was Charlize Theron's amazing performance as Ravenna. Theron nailed the character, portraying a cold, black-hearted queen who was consumed by the desire to be ravishingly beautiful and to conquer men. Immortality was icing on the cake for her.

The storyline, which had the modern twist of Snow White being a warrior princess determined to win back her family's throne and realm, was very well crafted. Despite all her suffering, Snow White unflinchingly accepted that she was the only one who could save her people. She rallies her people, who have lost their collective courage to help her.

Despite having this strength, the movie was brought down by poor casting choices, foremost by its leading lady. Sadly, Kristen Stewart was very much miscast as that warrior princess. Although her acting here is much improved from what we saw in the Twilight franchise, she still fails to impress. She doesn't have the screen presence to carry off a leading role in a movie and at times  her speeches were marred by a stilted and unconvincing delivery. Her role was also a difficult one; to be a beautiful and good princess.

Chris Hemsworth does what he does best; action scenes. At times his performance was bland and uninspiring, as though he didn't believe in Snow White's cause, at other times he was dynamic and energized, giving us a performance reminiscent of that in Avengers.

The special effects were brilliant, if similar to those in Lord of the Rings, giving the movie a definite Ringesque character. This was especially so of the battle scenes. Special effects related to Ravenna were well done though, and added to the air of evil and corruption of her character. The Magic Mirror special effects were especially creepy, enhancing the notion of Ravenna's evil magic.

Overall, I found the pacing uneven, creating a movie that seemed too long. Much could have been edited out of this movie to pick up the pace, hold the terror and suspense, and still provide viewers with the necessary comic relief.

The musical score for Snow White and the Huntman is beautiful and capped off by the powerful vocals of Florence and the Machine in the song, Breath of Life.

This movie is best seen on DVD where you can fast forward through the slow parts. The DVD offers home viewers the choice between the theatrical  or extended version. Below is the movie trailer:

No comments: