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Of Fairest and Fate: A Look at Snow White and The Huntsman

05 Jun

Welcome to the first official day of the June Blogathon! Before I begin, I just want to announce that tomorrow morning, I’ll be featured on a piece on 11Alive Atlanta about The Hunger Games: Catching Fire! It’ll be brief, but I’m looking forward to seeing the final product! And if you’re not in Atlanta, don’t worry, it’ll be online afterwards and I’ll link to it then!

Today is not about The Hunger Games though. Today, I’m talking about the latest adaptation of the fairy tale of Snow White, Snow White and the Huntsman. While it may not be getting the best reviews ever, I did enjoy the film immensely and believe that it’s a lot better than critics are giving it credit for. Spoilers under the picture, as usual.

I’ll admit, for the first act, I was a bit unsettled due to the pacing. Something about it was just a bit off, and didn’t leave a lot of room to breathe until we were deep into the Dark Forest. Still, this is were we’re introduced to Queen Ravenna, the antagonist played by a deliciously over-the-top Charlize Theron. While there were points where her portrayal of the Evil Queen drifted into cartoon-y territory, she still managed to be a formidable opponent. A nasty queen who only fears her own mortality. Even with the cartoon-ness and her creepy brother, I managed to enjoy her turn as the over-the-top villain. Not to mention that the dresses she wears throughout the movie are Pure Colleen Atwood Deliciousness. Especially the one with the crown of bones and the collar of skulls from when she calls in the Huntsman.

However, even as the wretched Queen Ravenna, we get brief glimpses into her background. Despite her evilness, she still has a background of a girl who was taken from her home when she was young and has used her powers and her femininity to get back at the world that she believes has done her wrong. It’s an interesting take on the motivations of the Evil Queen, and what happens when that power is put in jeopardy by fate.

What of our heroine? What of the dear Snow White? I know that there will be many out there who will judge Kristen Stewart’s performance based on her previous life as Bella Swan and her tendency to be rather straight faced. However, I didn’t see a dull performance here. While Stewart may be a bit more reserved, I still saw a determined princess who was ready to restore her kingdom and escape the grasp of Ravenna. While she was not an expert at everything she was doing, she was still courageous, which is what her kingdom and her people needed. She cares for her people in many ways, and she’s able to motivate them into battle.

I know that many people have made snarky comments about the movie trying to convince us that Kristen Stewart is “fairer” than Charlize Theron. While I will admit that Charlize is more attractive, I don’t think being “of fairest blood” was necessarily about looks. Ravenna is gorgeous and she has used her femininity to gain power and subvert the rule of men. Snow White’s power is more about inner beauty. Her presence is purity and magic, and brings hope to the people living under the darkness of Ravenna. Here, it’s less about who’s hotter and more about who has more power. It’s said multiple times that Snow White can either be Ravenna’s downfall or salvation, and that’s all because of the power she carries. Not because of her beauty.

On that point of the fairest, I loved the dichotomies that were happening in this film. It wasn’t just light vs. dark. It was very emphasized that Ravenna and Snow White are bound in fate. They are two sides of the same coin. They both attract people to them with their power, and have to use their armies to fight for the kingdom and their lives. It’s made even more obvious with the Queen’s ravens, and Snow’s magpies.

Not everyone is going to see this movie for the ladies though. Some will be going for the large Australian man playing The Huntsman. Which I can’t really fault them for. Chris Hemsworth is actually pretty great in this. Sure, he’s got a strange Irish brogue that’s mixed in with his Australian accent, and most my thoughts towards The Huntsman throughout the film were “THOR, YOU ARE DRUNK!” Other than that, The Huntsman was an interesting balance to Snow White. He’s a man that’s become so jaded towards Ravenna’s reign that it’s hard for him to see how Snow White is affecting the things around him. Even then, it becomes hard for him to admit what kind of effect she has on him until she’s dead. He’s a damaged man, and not even Snow White can heal him all the way. But knowing her can make his pain easier, and to me, that’s realistic.

Of course, not everyone is going to be happy with the power of friendship. In the film, there’s a bit of a maybe love triangle happening between Snow White, The Huntsman, and Prince William (played by Sam Claflin). Despite the childhood relationship between Snow and William, it’s the Huntsman’s kiss that brings Snow White back from death. Each have their own appeal to the audience, with William being a noble archer who sneaks into Finn’s ranks to find the Princess, and The Huntsman being Chris Hemsworth. Still, by the end of the movie, she’s not with either of them as she becomes the rightful queen of the land. Which I loved. I kind of secretly hoped that she remains unmarried through her reign and gets with both of them behind the scenes, but I’m sure any possible sequel to this film will ruin that dream. The fact that a major Hollywood movie with a love triangle that’s unresolved even came out, though, is a huge deal for me.

Issues aside, Snow White and the Huntsman is a fun summer fantasy film. It includes awesome leading ladies and a great supporting cast in both the citizens of the realm and the queen’s men. This is especially true for the scene stealing dwarves that include British greats like Ian McShane and Nick Frost. The scenery and costumes are lush, and it never shies away from the fantasy element of this story. My favorite moment of this was definitely the fairy sanctuary, which felt like a Hayao Miyazaki movie come to life. It’s only true fault is cutting Matt Berry out of the film, but that’s only the tipping point for me to buy this film on DVD when it comes out.

Come back tomorrow for day two, where I go over the Men In Black films.

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Posted by on June 5, 2012 in Film

 

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