I really don’t like Kristen Stewart. I mean really, really do not like her. She’s a horrible actress. Her track record for emoting is that of a wet paper bag. I’m sure she’s a wonderful girl in real life, but she’s inexplicably popular and with the whole Twilight debacle… I’m just not a fan.
That being said. I LOVED Snow White & The Huntsman.
I was prepared for Stewart chewing scenery, Hemsworth smoldering, and Theron being absolutely brilliant. And they all provided that and then some, but I also was given a precious gift. A fairytale that wasn’t coated in sugary sweet goodness. The traditional Snow White tale most people are very familiar with. There’s the Evil Queen, the Huntsman, the Mirror, Prince Charming, the Seven Dwarves, and the titular Snow White herself. All these characters are presented in Snow White & the Huntsman (SW&H) and the story follows the general vein of the Disney classic, if you rolled it in gritty, nasty filth and slapped it around a few times for good measure… and it’s a good thing.
SW&H isn’t gory, bloody, or scary. What it is is violent, dirty, deeply creepy, and fascinating due largely in part to Charlize Theron’s Ravenna the Evil Queen and her AH-MAAAAAZING ::singsong:: costume designer Colleen Atwood. The pair deserve accolades and awards for the amazing character they brought to life. Theron is psychotically amazing. She is pain, suffering, hurt, anger, vengeance, breathtaking beauty, power, and pure evil. You feel Ravenna’s rage and you can not look away. Her clothing is the perfect frame for the twisted picture. Bones, feathers, steel, spikes, claws. The costumes pull influence from carrion birds; crows, ravens, vultures. Charlize Theron’s Ravenna is the Evil Queen to end all Evil Queens. That is reason enough to see SW&H.
Ravenna’s reign has killed the kingdom, literally. Every living thing of beauty has died under her power. She’s that bitter. And Snow’s time in the Dark Forest drives this home. I remember in the Disney version the cutesy-spooky trees grasping at Snow White’s cape and dress. Her girlish squeaks. SW&H has none of that. That forest wants to freaking EAT HER! Bad acid trip-inducing spores, gargoyles, bridge trolls, it’s the Neverending Story’s Swamp of Sadness on fucking crack. These are the scenes that will appeal to the fan of the macabre and twisted.
Another horror fan’s gem is Ravenna’s brother Finn. He is the personification of everything vile and cruel. His relationship with his powerful sister is also discomfiting. It swims with incestuous undercurrents reminiscent of Top Dollar and his sister from The Crow. He is Ravenna’s second in command, her sword (though she needs no help to lay waste). I rather enjoyed his psychopathic rampages and his creepy as all get out page-boy haircut. His slimy demeanor makes him the perfect foil to the Huntsman. His addition to the story is another layer of ick, making the story that much better.
The Dwarves are another pleasant revision. Played by such favorites as Ian McShane, Nick Frost, Ray Winstone, and Bob Hoskins - they are not your sweet little bachelor miners, but murderous, rabble rousing scrappers. And they are still kinda cute, in a charmingly greasy sort of way. Their stature is handled well, without it being painfully obvious that these actors are not actually 4ft tall.
The Prince, is actually a Duke’s son played by Sam Claflin. While not the traditional portrayal of Prince Charming, Claflin is attractive, heroic, and would make Legolas, Katniss, and Hawkeye proud with his bow skillz. On his own he is a prime princely specimen… he’s just consistently overshadowed by the bigger, better, badder Huntsman.
I admit. I maaaay have a bit of a thing for Thor. I mean, Chris Hemsworth and anytime he’s in leather, long hair, and swinging a weapon, I’m going to be a happy little viking girl. Setting aside my shallow interest in his appearance, he actually provides a depth of character to a formerly bit part. Eric the Huntsman is dirty, broken, weak, but valiant. The loss of his wife has broken his heart and his will to live. He seeks comfort in booze and fighting (lots of it!), but he also brings something unexpected to the table. Humor. He’s actually kinda funny. It’s subtle and charming, in classic Hemsworth fashion. Even his vague Scottish brogue leaves me squealingly amused. Hemsworth steals Prince Charming’s thunder in more ways than one (Ha! Get it? Cause he’s the God of Thunder? I kill myself). I won’t spoil the story, but for me what half of the movie that isn’t captivated by Theron is stolen by Hemsworth.
And… I suppose I must actually touch on Snow White. Stewart does not ruin the film, happily enough. And maybe I dislike her only ever so slightly less because of it. She has somewhat overcome her simpering Twilight roots and I think that’s due largely in part to her minimal lines and her castmates. Her job isn’t to carry the film, thankfully. It’s to be there, look like Snow White, give one less than stellar Braveheart-esque speech, and facilitate the story by providing the mechanism for the amazing performances of everyone else in the film. Stewart looks the part (regardless of the gap mouth). She’s got the raven hair, the skin as white as snow, and lips of ruby. She even provides a passable backbone when required, but Joan of Arc she is not. In the end you could have replaced her with any “It” girl in Hollywood and probably have had the same film.
SW&H plays an intelligent card. It rides the Hemsworth high of Avengers and brings to the table the Twi-hards with Stewart. Two groups who may not otherwise be interested in a dark fairytale. But it’s neither of those films. And these aren’t your Disney characters. The best part? There’s no gag-me-with-a-spoon love triangle or sugary romance which seems to be the soup de jour. Sure, there’s romantic tension, but it’s ancillary. This may be this generation’s Legend, Neverending Story, or Labyrinth. I know, strong words. I don’t care if it has a Twilighter is in it. So what’s the recipe? Bitchin’ costumes, a hot as fuck Evil Queen Theron, a charming Huntsman Hemsworth, epic music, evocative visuals, a fun amount of violence, slap a fantastic Florence + The Machine song as your end titles, and Bob’s your uncle. Good job, now take my money.
And because I can’t help myself, here a few more of the stunning costumes…