Bring on the fairytales

When the casting for for Snow White and the Huntsman was announced over a year ago, I was very intrigued. Charlize Theron, I had no doubt, would have a blast as the evil queen. But Kristen Stewart? I was curious to see how this would work. I do believe Stewart is capable of good work, as she’s shown in other movies – the Twilight series not included. It’s an unfortunate part of her resume that I hope she can get away from eventually, because I do believe she can do more than that. But besides that, I was pretty happy with the casting. I can’t get enough Chris Hemsworth, and the dwarves made up of Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, and others? Awesome. Then this poster came out, showing an obviously darker version of the tale. Again, I was totally okay with that. Snow White is not really one of my favorite princesses, so I was happy to be interested and excited for this version, because I hoped it might make me enjoy the tale more.

Then the teaser trailer came out, and I was really pumped. On top of Theron’s crazy queen riddles and the awesome music, it looked like a solid tale. And when I finally saw it last night, I’m glad to say I wasn’t disappointed. I got pretty much what I expected, and was even surprised by a few parts. The movie makes for a really awesome trailer, that’s for sure. At a little over 2 hours, it sometimes feels a bit too long, but picks up pretty quickly again. Sometimes, the music was a bit too much, but that was my main complaint. Like, I don’t need to hear a sad story and then be overwhelmed with violins. I’d like to feel sad because of the story, not because the music tells me I should be…if that makes sense. But overall, it’s good entertainment, and if you liked the trailer, I think you get what you want.

I really enjoyed this movie because it blended so many different stories. Lord of the Rings was the most prominent influence, but they really took the elements of the original fairytale and incorporated them into this epic fantasy. The dark forest and the rotten apple were updated particularly well. The addition of the Huntsman, as well as Prince William, also serves the story well, as Hemsworth becomes the anchor for both Snow White and the audience.

The story begins with Queen Ravenna (Theron), who retains her beauty by taking the hearts of others. Her rule started after she married and subsequently killed Snow White’s father, locking Snow in a tower for her early life. Snow’s childhood friend William escaped and has been fighting under her banner ever since (see where this is going?). Ravenna learns from her tricked-out mirror that she needs to take Snow White’s heart and she’ll never have to worry about aging again. She sends her super-creepy brother Finn (Sam Spruell) to get Snow White, but she escapes instead, and despite giving chase, Finn and his cronies lose her to the Dark Forest. Since the queen’s powers are useless there, she gets the Huntsman (Hemsworth) to go after her by promising to use her powers to resurrect his dead wife. So he goes after Snow White, but eventually ends up helping her. Along the way, she encounters more fantastical creatures, and of course, her dwarves.

One of the things I liked about this movie was that they did focus more on Snow White’s innocence versus the Queen’s corruption, and they showed it through different scenes in the movie. Snow was inexperienced and made mistakes, but she also was able to feelĀ  compassion for others, and that showed even in the movie’s final scenes. Stewart did a fine job with what she was given, and she toned down the eye twitching/lip-biting/hair-combing a lot. Hemsworth is great as the Huntsman. Sure, the trailer makes him out to be a medieval Thor, and it’s true in the action scenes. But he is also inherently likable, and that only adds to his performance and character backstory. Theron is just having a ball playing Ravenna. Sometimes, it goes slightly over the top, but even then she reins it in and it’s okay. It was also nice to see a Prince who did not just swoop in at the end, but was consistently badass throughout. I mean it’s hard to compete against medieval Thor, but he tried admirably. And his childhood connection with Snow White was still sweet.

The movie is also gorgeous to look at. The effects are really, really cool and definitely add to the tone of the movie. One of the most memorable scenes comes as Queen Ravenna returns from a venture outside the castle, but is using her magic to do so, appearing to turn into a flock of ravens. But her landing in the throne room is gross. She crawls out from a dark, inky mire of feathers while birds flop and twitch around her. It’s definitely one of the film’s better and darker moments. But there are also unexpectedly light moments, including one dazzling scene showing what Snow White’s rule could be like. It’s a reminder that this is, after all, a fairytale.

Overall, I liked how the fairytale elements and the cast came together in the movie. While it is a bit unevenly paced and maybe a bit too musically timed, it is still a really cool retelling of a fairytale, with some pretty awesome special effects. And I could always use more fairytales.

Bonus points for the awesome Florence and the Machine song in the credits!