Saturday, June 9, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman: Long title, longer movie.

As a hardcore despiser of anything might be surprised to know that I don't hate Kristen Stewart. I decided to go see this movie because Snow White was pretty much my favorite princess growing up (well, after I wore out my Little Mermaid VHS, it was a close second). I had the costume, I had the stuffed Dopey, I sang the songs; it was a good time. So, with that imprinted love of Snow White, I will pretty much watch anything related to that storyline. I like it. Join me in this journey into the land of make believe and giant white...deer?

Snow White and the Huntsman
Directed By - Rupert Sanders
Written By - Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock, & Hossein Amini
Top Billed Cast - Kristin Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, & Charlize Theron 

In case you don't know the story of Snow White: no worries, this movie tells the whole thing. What new things they choose to bring to the table, however, are what's mostly going to fill this review. There are just some things you don't mess with. Fairies are one of them.

Pros - 

* I love a good crane shot. This movie did really good work with their cranes, I was genuinely impressed. Helicopter shots, cranes, wides, steady-cams....whatever they were using was working for them.

* Along those same lines, props to the set designers (mostly); I thought the colors were brilliant and the contrasts well done.

* While I wasn't a huge fan of her entire performance, I would like to take a moment to (virtually) pat Charlize Theron on the back for being willing to be covered in indeterminate-goo for most of the film. Black goo, white goo, dark red goo...she was in it.

* I was actually not that bothered by the fight sequences in this movie. I rarely like battle scenes because it's so hard to tell who is who and which person I'm supposed to be rooting for (not because I can't tell good from evil but because the costuming is too similar or the shots too quick to actually see who's winning), but this movie did a really good job for the most part with keeping their "bad" people in very different clothing than the "good". The ponytails were a nice touch.

* CGI...I'll probably devote at least two asterisks to this same topic down in the Cons section but there were moments that I gave invisible high-fives to the CGI people. The hairy apple was one of them. I'm not easily grossed out but just thinking about eating a hairy apple? blech.

* Choosing to not have a heavy score in a movie like this is a risky move but it worked in their favor, I think. There were lots of moments of almost complete silence (some wheezing aside) and I felt that better communicated the feelings of the scenes than a dramatic musical background would have.

* Comic relief is alive and well...if you make it far enough to see it. This movie is long, and slow, but if you stick with it you will be treated to some excellent poop jokes. Just thought I'd let you know.

* This last asterisk in this section I'm giving to my good pal, KStew. In a movie where she only said like 30 lines, I felt she did a much better job emoting than in almost any other film I've seen her in. She was consistant and actually smiled a couple of times; it was odd.


* This is such a slow and long movie. I made the mistake of downing a bottled water prior to entering the theater so my opinion of the pacing might be a bit askew but I really don't think so. If you know the story of Snow White, which...who doesn't at this point?, then you're probably going to get a bit bored at times.

* There were a lot of moments in this movie that felt like moments in other movies. I know, it's 2012 and there it's getting super hard to be original but, honestly, it's not that hard. Ask me some time about my "dotting certification", originality is not dead. There are ways to have a scary forest without it having such a resemblance to a very famous scary forest in The Princess Bride; I was looking for ROUSes everywhere. There was also a Great Expectations moment as well as Ever After (wrong princess but apparently they didn't care), Narnia, Fern Gully...honestly, the list goes on and on.

* Did the producers blow all their money on paying the actors and not have any left to spend on dialect coaches? Really? I mean, ya hire not one...not two...but THREE non-British actors to play the lead characters in a film supposedly set in England but you don't try for some consistency in dialect? Charlize Theron sounded like she had a speech impediment half the movie and the other half she was slipping in and out of that "accent", then you have KStew who did an okay job (mostly) at keeping her consistency, and then you have Hemsworth and he's Scottish? Did I miss something? There was only one character in the whole movie that was Scottish. I just don't get it. If he's gotta have a different accent than everyone else for some unexplained plot-point then why couldn't he just be Australian? Continuity aside, I mean, really...there are fairies so it can't be because Australia wasn't yet founded.

* On the whole Hemsworth being Scottish for unknown reasons point: why did he narrate the beginning of the movie? If he didn't know who Snow was...why was he telling her story? I'm just confused. If this movie was ever meant to be a stand-alone piece, they really failed at communicating things.

* Can I talk about those fairies for a second? Good. Fairies, in my opinion, should not look like Gollum. They are supposed to be the epitome of all things magically good in movies. At least Harry Potter called their ugly ones "pixies" so it made it better. These were just...naked and wingless and riding around in the "pouches" of Magpies? I just don't even know.

* Since I already mentioned skimping on the budget in certain areas, let's talk about the CGI again. From the naked-Gollum fairies to the rabbits to the big white...deer? I just wasn't impressed. At this point in movie history, I just don't buy the excuse that they can't do better. Jim Henson's puppets were more believable as actual creatures than those things. Not only is CGI more challenging to work with for the actors, but reaching that level of "realness" seems to be way too difficult for most productions. I believed the reindeer in The Santa Claus more than I believed these animals ever walked on the earth. I just find it insulting and pointless. I get that it's make-believe anyway but if Animal Planet can do a better job creating a CGI shark and T-rex on one of their programs, this multimillion dollar production should be embarrassed.

* Apparently, if you're locked in a tower for 7+ years you don't spend any of that time looking for things that might help you escape; you make dolls and pray over nonexistent food. You also don't practice making fire.

* There was one moment, that I won't spoil completely, that felt very much like one of those "hidden" moments in Disney movies where you know the animator got fired later when it was discovered that he/she put *that* in the film. You know what I mean. Have fun looking for it but the entire theater in the showing I watched gasped/laughed out loud when it happened. Fun times.

* In other CGI-related news: apparently Hemsworth was the only actor worthy of getting breath added in-in post production.

* One thing I really really really hate in movies & TV shows is the fake drinking. Not just alcoholic beverages, but when they're carrying around obviously empty coffee cups and trying to make me believe that there is liquid inside them. Can they not put water in them? Or, heck, some sort of weight so that they don't look like they're going to fly away the second they are set down? Anyway, I get that the actors can't be expected to consume liquids in every take of every scene where it is "needed" for their character to drink...but...if said character is only "drinking" a single gulp in said scene before tossing the vessel aside, couldn't he at least PRETEND to swallow something instead of just lifting the thing to his lips? Fake drinking is like acting 101. You learn that right after you learn how to faint.

* This is a legitimate question: why is it that people are rarely dry in period films? Did all the roofs leak? Did they never have dry days on which to hang their clothes? Did the wind never dry their never-brushed-unless-they-were-royalty locks?

* Remember that one time you made out with your wicked Step-Mother? Apparently Snow White didn't either. I dunno about you, but if I kissed a guy that turned out to be my Step-Mom and then I died and came back to life, I might throw up. Ok, it'd probably be low down on the "to-do" list but it would still be there!

* I saw KStew's "invisible" reins. The whole movie is now ruined. Not really, but it was one of my favourite moments.

* For a movie of this length, one hundred and twenty-seven minutes to be exact, there was quite a bit that went unexplained. Like the fact that one of the dwarves was blind. Sure, we all knew it...but still.

* Speaking of unexplained things...did ALL of the girls "drained" by the Queen get re-beautified? If that's the case...did the Huntsman's wife? Do I smell sequel topics?

Now Mother..
This movie is rated PG-13 for action violence, mostly in battle sequences. There is some awkward sister-brother-love that might need some explaining as well as talk about magic and hallucinations. Aside from the violence, though, this movie is fairly "clean" by traditional standards.

Overall, I didn't hate this movie. I laughed...a LOT. KStew did a pretty good job considering the fact that she said even less in this movie than she does normally. I mean, I guess I give some props to the casting director for hiring an actress known WORLDWIDE for not being able to properly emote to play a character with so little to say. But, then again, there is the whole "the role was offered to NINE other actresses before her" thing. That might clear some things up. I'm definitely interested to see if they do end up making two more of these things. I'd rather it not turn into another film series involving KStew giving birth. Nobody wants to see that. Again. 2.5/5 stars