Snow White and the Hunksman

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ½ (3.5/5)
Film Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½ (3.5/5)
Boyfriend friendly: Just tell him that you’re going to see “that new movie with Thor”. You won’t be lying, and he’ll think you’re going to The Avengers for the 9th time.

I already went into a rant about how lame of a princess Snow White is in my review of Mirror Mirror, so I won’t dwell on that any longer (although I will point out that Disney World must have had a reason for taking down Snow White’s Scary Adventure this May). Therefore, it should be no surprise that I had zero desire to sit through another disastrous attempt at remaking an already mediocre story – and judging by the drab three minute trailer that just did not appeal to me at all, I was certain this would be just that. But I knew I had to see it for the purposes of this blog, so I dragged myself out of bed this morning to catch an 11:30AM showing ($4 movie tix before noon, yo!) and by, George, I think I liked it!

Snow White and the Huntsman closely follows the well-known tale (evil queen obsessed with beauty, talking mirror, poisonous apple, seven dwarfs) but adds a few welcome additions (sexy huntsman, intense battle sequences, evil queen back story). Ravenna (Charlize Theron) is an evil sorceress with some serious Daddy issues. She has a nasty habit of feeding from attractive women to sustain her own beauty, seducing powerful men with said beauty, then killing them and taking over their kingdoms. Unfortunately Snow’s father, King Magnus (Noah Huntley), is no exception. For reasons we never really understand, Ravenna decides to spare her pretty, young step-daughter Snow White (Kristen Stewart), and locks her up in a high tower. Years later, however, her magic mirror reveals that Snow’s beating heart is the one thing keeping Ravenna from immortality. She sends her brother to retrieve Snow from her prison cell, but Snow pulls the ole stab-him-in-the-eye-with-a-rusty-nail trick and escapes. Moral of the story: Never send a man to do a woman’s job. Snow makes a break for the eerie Dark Forest, where the Evil Queen’s powers are useless. Ravenna hires the only Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) who has been to the Forest (and lived to tell the tale) to chase after her. He finds Snow in like 3 seconds flat, but is so struck by her beauty and kindness that he decides to switch sides and help her in her journey to find Duke Hammond (Vincent Regan), an old friend of her father, and his son William (Sam Claflin), her childhood bestie. With all of her new allies, including a band of dwarfs led by Bob Hoskins, a revolt is planned to claim Snow’s rightful throne.

Let me start out by stating the obvious: Charlize Theron was absolutely magnificent as Ravenna. Her Evil Queen was dark and, of course, evil but also very complex. She wasn’t just evil for evil’s sake, like the Queen in the original Snow White or in Mirror Mirror. There is a good reason she is so full of hate, and at times I truly felt sorry for her. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t want Snow to completely kick her ass in the end. Chris Hemsworth also surprised as the hunksman huntsman ’cause I have to be honest: Thor just does not do it for me. I guess I prefer the superheroes who make their own power, like Iron Man and Batman, which is no fault of Chris Hemsworth, but I definitely preferred him here as the brooding huntsman who drinks just a little too much but always steps in at a clutch moment. He also was the only one with any sort of funny lines in a movie that could have used just a tad more comic relief. And K. Stew was actually tolerable in the title role. Her accent went in and out, but she did a good job at making Snow pretty resourceful and kind of badass. Think Katniss, not dainty princess. She also wasn’t required to smile until the last two seconds, so that must have made it a bit easier for her.

The costumes were completely stunning. I loved every single item that Ravenna wore, from her beaded gold dresses to her cloak made of raven’s feathers, and Colleen Atwood’s homage to the original Snow White costume – little hints of red in the sleeves of Snow’s dress – made me smile. Rupert Sanders also created a fantastical world, complete with a petrifying Dark Forest, some interesting-looking fairies (they look like the killer aliens from Galaxy Quest!), and some scary-ass evil soldiers who form out of shards of black glass. It surprises me to say that this movie was more faithful to the original story than Mirror Mirror, and every addition or change was carefully thought out and welcomed (including a twist to the classic poisoned apple scene and a LOVE TRIANGLE, which every half-decent movie with Kristen Stewart apparently needs). Don’t be fooled though: this is not a “fun for the whole family” fairy tale and the little kid in my theater who sobbed throughout the entire Dark Forest scene is proof.

Of course, there were problems. The movie dragged considerably in the middle, and it seemed like Sanders began slipping things in just so he had an excuse to play with some fancy CGI. There is one too many fight sequences, and a scene with a white deer who has abnormally large antlers that could have just been cut out and no one would’ve known the diff. It also raised a lot of unanswered questions: Wouldn’t Snow be a little unstable after being held captive all those years? If the Evil Queen hates men so much, why isn’t she a bit more compassionate towards women? And for Christ’s sake, why were Stewart and Hemsworth the only two soldiers without protective helmets in the final battle scene? I thought it was supposed to be safety, not sexy, first!

Honestly, this might just be the “fairest” of all the Snow White movies. That’s a bold claim though, because I don’t think I’ve actually seen the original Snow White since that time I was 5 and I tried to make the well in our backyard garden talk back to me, like she does in the beginning, and I fell down it and cut up my leg pretty badly. True story. Anyway, I still think the Snow White story kinda sucks and I am much more excited for Maleficient: the live-action take on Sleeping Beauty starring Angelina Jolie due out in 2014.

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Not The Fairest Of Them All

Mirror Mirror (2012)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ ½ (2.5/5)
Film Rating: ★ ★ (2/5)
Boyfriend friendly: Umm… not so much

I have to be honest – I always thought that Snow White kind of sucked in comparison to the other princess movies. Yeah, I know it’s a classic because it was the first cel-animated feature in motion picture history and yaddi-yadda but seriously – it’s pretty much the same exact story as Sleeping Beauty (an evil witch curses a princess to an eternal sleep that can only be cured by true love’s kiss), except Sleeping Beauty is way better. Now, before you jump all over me, let me make my case: 1) Sleeping Beauty has better hair and a better name… well, at least Aurora is better – I’m not too sure about her undercover code name, Briar Rose. 2) Snow White’s best friends are forest animals and dwarfs, Sleeping Beauty’s best friends are forest animals and fairies. And 3) even though Prince No-Name and Prince Phillip look kinda the same, Phil is hotter because not only does he have a name but he also kills the evil witch by stabbing her when she transforms into a freaking fire-breathing dragon. Prince No-Name doesn’t even kill the evil queen, the dwarfs do!

Needless to say, I was less than thrilled when I heard that 2012 would have not one but two “new takes” on Snow White. But, as I began to see trailers and clips for both versions, I actually started to get a little excited for Mirror Mirror. Whereas Snow White and the Huntsman looks dark and intense, and just not my personal cup of tea, I thought Mirror Mirror’s light-hearted and comedic approach might add some of the excitement that I miss in the Disney version. Unfortunately, the expectations I have for Snow White and the Huntsman seemed to ring true for Mirror Mirror: beautiful to look at, but a boring story with an unoriginal script.

This was one of the harder movies to rate because Mirror Mirror wasn’t necessarily awful – it just wasn’t anything special. Director Tarsem Singh created a spectacular kingdom, with sets and costumes that made my mouth water, but all the magic was lost in a script full of flat jokes and clich├ęs. Although I think Julia Roberts is always exceptional, the material she was given to work with as a humorously insecure evil queen that we love-to-hate was hackneyed. Her vain attempts to slow down her aging body reminded me of Jennifer Coolidge’s evil stepmother in A Cinderella Story, and her childish means of entertainment (like using servants as chess figures) were practically stolen right out of Helena Bonham Carter’s Red Queen. Phil Collins’ daughter, Lilly Collins, made for a beautiful Snow White but, despite giving her a sword, she felt just as wimpy and oh!-so-perfect-its-annoying as the 1937 version. Seriously, I can’t really blame the Queen for wanting Snow dead… That bitch’s flawless, white skin didn’t even turn red or get goosebumps when she was exiled to the icy, cold forest in a short-sleeve dress! The dwarfs had some good lines (and sweet accordion stilts), but were mostly underused and I was kind of sad when they never burst out into a modernized rap rendition of Heigh-Ho. However, points do go to this version for not only giving the prince a name but also for having Armie Hammer play him. My only lament there is that they didn’t use the technology from The Social Network to create two of him. Yum!

Mirror Mirror definitely plays towards children, but I wouldn’t call it “fun for the whole family”. Times are a-changin’, particularly over the last few years where we have seen more and more actual heroines and less damsels-in-distress. Even my 8 year-old cousin preferred watching Katniss over Snow White this weekend! Perhaps, in that respect, Snow White and the Huntsman will actually be a pleasant surprise. K. Stew does look pretty badass in that suit of armor and – judging by the trailer – she doesn’t actually talk all that much in the movie, which is a win in my book.

And because Wrestlemania was last weekend, and the WWE Disney Princess league should probably happen at some point, I leave you with this. Whose your money on?: