You know, this one was probably just as stupid as Prometheus. I think the reason why I DIDN’T love it is A: It didn’t have all that many clever moments to atone for the stupidity, and B: I went in frankly not expecting much, and not much is what I got.
At least I wasn’t disappointed.
(Spoilers from here-on, be warned.)
Right off the bat Chris Hemsworth was narrating, and I just couldn’t get over how fake his accent sounded. I know he’s Australian, and maybe that is legitimately how he sounds in real life, but what with how loud his voiceover was and so on, it just came off as fake and never stopped sounding fake. Plus I was constantly reminded of THOR. And I sighed. (Not a good sigh.)
The army of Snow White’s father had CAVALRY attacking…whatever the hell those dark things were, who had pikes. You don’t do that. You just don’t. You’d end up with skewered horse and possibly skewered soldier.
Snow White’s father was quickly seduced into marriage with Ravenna and then killed off, along with probably everyone else in the castle. Like we’ve never seen that before.
So…the apple Will bit into was still lying there a year later? Without rotting or anything? Probably symbolism.
I just don’t understand why Ravenna and her brother – hereafter known as What’s His Face – kept Snow White alive, even though they slaughtered just about everyone else in the castle. Greta did say that the kingdom thought Snow was dead, clearly they had no problem with letting people believe they’d offed her, so why didn’t they? Yes, if they had killed her there’d be no story (more’s the pity) but I would have liked to be given a reason why they just locked her up for years instead. Maybe something like: they were keeping her for a component in a really powerful spell, that required a virgin of royal blood, etc.
(A plot point which was actually included in the extended cut, but, you know what? That didn’t help me when I was sitting in the cinema one little bit.)
But no, Ravenna is all, ‘I should have killed her. Oh, well.’
Also, might I point out that Snow White looks in very good shape for having spent about ten years in a tower cell? Kudos for her hair looking like it hasn’t been washed for a long time, but it’s still perfectly trimmed, as are her nails, despite the dirt. Also her dress both fits her fairly well and laces up the back, so she must have had someone to help her put it on.
Plus, she’s apparently Catholic. That’s not a nitpick, that’s actually fairly interesting, since it shows the film is trying to cement itself in the real world despite…just about everything that follows.
Also, Kristen Stewart, close your mouth girl!
Ravenna bathes in milk. I spent the whole milk bath scene thinking ‘We didn’t need this. You just wanted to film Charlize Theron naked and covered in milk, you sick people’.
Also running through my mind were things such as: ‘Ugh, she uses it as a bath and then gives it to people to drink, what a bitch. No, you are not kinder than whoever was giving you scraps, you are a BITCH.’ And, as a triple threat, ‘If the land’s ruined and there’s nothing for the cows or asses or any other poor unfortunate mammals to eat…then where’s all this milk coming from?’
Ravenna interrogates some rebel lords, the younger of whom tries to kill her. I seriously thought Ravenna was going to go the whole Indiana Jones ‘pulling out the heart through the rib cage’ route on him. I was very disappointed when she did not.
Ah, time to display how the Evil Queen’s beauty draining powers work. Poor Greta- wait.
Is that…Lily Cole?
As in, semi-professional model, nude gracer of the French Playboy magazine cover,
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus star
Lily Cole? (Who, incidentally, is also a staunch participant in fair trade and got a double first in History of Art from Cambridge.)
THAT LILY COLE?
Why…yes, it is.
I know beauty is subjective and in the eye of the beholder and what does it for me might not necessarily be your thing, but, oh stuff it, I need to get this straight: this film would have me believe that Kristen Stewart is not only fairer than Charlize Theron, but also fairer than LILY COLE. Please understand, I don’t think Kristen Stewart is bad looking at all – but, come on.
The mirror was very good, and I liked that it was actually a realistic mirror for that period in time, made of highly polished metal rather than glass. But it was critically underused, only about twice in the whole film. Also whatever was in it sounded both bored and not impressed with Ravenna at all, and I wanted to know why, but we never find out.
What’s His Face has such an out of place haircut. Just about every other nobleman has long flowing locks (a la Lord of the Rings), why is he the only one with literal helmet hair? I could understand if everyone wore their hair like that circa Henry V style – the nobility were at war so often that this was a legitimate haircut, so it would be easier to wear a helmet without hair getting in the way – but not only do they not, What’s His Face himself never wears a helmet during the entire course of the film. He just looks so strange, why did you need to do that?
Naturally What’s His Face wants to rape Snow before taking her to his sister, why am I not surprised? I’ll admit it, I chuckled when Snow used the (very easy to pull out of the wall) nail to stab What’s His Face and flee. You know, ‘For want of a nail.’ The film even makes an oblique reference to that a bit later on, although one of my friends says I was giving it WAY too much credit. And I was amused, if only a little.
All right. Snow White has been locked in a tower room since she was about eight. She should not be running, or sliding into second (…sewer). She should be adjusting to even being out in proper sunlight for the first time in years and screwing up her eyes way more and going ‘DEAR GOD IT BUUUUUUUUUUUURNS’.
She’d also probably be emaciated from missing out on vitamin D from sunlight, and proper food. But this can probably be answered with ‘fight or flight, do or die’, so nevermind. At least she gags while wading through what is later confirmed as poo.
Why does she have britches on under the skirt? Just…why does she have britches on under the skirt? True, she could feasibly have been given them to keep out the cold…but she was a prisoner. They wouldn’t have cared how comfortable she may or may not have been. And, on top of that, she’s wearing knee-high boots as well. WHY?
Of course there’s a horse waiting for her when she gets to the shore. Of course there is. Plus, magpies.
And of course she knows how to ride astride it. Bareback. With no reins. At top speed, without so much as slipping. By this point I was literally holding my head in my hands and groaning.
I can’t have been the only one who said ‘Artax!’ when the horse got stuck in the mud. Gad, that scene still gets me all these years later. And we don’t really know what happened to the horse. At all.
Snow escapes into the Dark Forest, and here’s where the fun really begins. I got the distinct impression that everyone involved in this was trying to outdo the Disney Snow White’s forest nightmare sequence. I’m still undecided as to whether or not they succeeded. Also, maggots. Lots and lots of maggots.
Introducing the grieving badass widower Huntsman, whose name we never do learn during the film. I hear tell it’s Eric.
Ravenna offers to bring the Hunstman’s wife back from the dead. Everyone could probably guess where this was going, so it surprises precisely nobody when What’s His Face tells the Huntsman that, surprise, Ravenna was lying. Why he couldn’t have waited to tell him until after he killed Snow I have no freaking clue, other than that, again, we wouldn’t have had a story.
Ah, the awkward stage of the two getting to know each other after the Huntsman tried to, you know, kill her. Snow White is entirely too ready to pal around with a guy who was ready to cut her heart out a few minutes ago, even if she does want to get out of the forest. Kristen Stewart, close your mouth.
The lord that survived the encounter with Ravenna brings news to the rebel forces that the princess is alive, SHE’S ALIIIII-
-wait, wait, wait. Hold on.
How he know who she was? Did he ever even meet her when she was a child? No one’s seen her since she was about eight, why would he recognise her now? I know, I know, skin white as snow, hair black as raven’s wing, lips red as blood, the works. So what? She was still pretty filthy and in the midst of trying desperately to escape. She could have been any unfortunate girl fleeing from the queen.
Will is Hawkeye, Robin Hood, Legolas and just about anyone else with a bow. Plus he has such pretty pretty ringlets, and trampo-leaps, and conflict with his daddy about whether to charge off and rescue Snow or not.
I called the troll as soon as I saw the bridge, thanks Once Upon A Time. Kristen Stewart, close your mouth. And, oh for the love of…
SHE CAN TAME TROLLS. First of all, so cliché, second of all why don’t they tame the troll, get a bunch more and take them back to fight the queen? No, no time for that, they’ve got to keep moving. After a whole ‘I told you to run’ ‘Well I didn’t’ bit.
I’m wondering how big the distances between the various locations actually are, since Will managed to get to the capital of…whatever country this is, rather too quickly. He confronts What’s His Face who’s just gotten back from the forest again – Why does he keep on coming back if he knows it’s just going to get his sister more and more pissed off? – and inquires thusly: ‘Do you need a bowman?’
He does now. (Oh, 1966 World Cup commentator, who knew you’d coin such an immortal phrase?)
What’s His Face seems to take Will killing one of his henchmen – when he could very easily have shot What’s His Face instead – quite well. I will admit: this bit was funny, although it probably wasn’t meant to be.
The village of the scarred women was a clever idea, but they just don’t do anything interesting or useful with it. And, again, how does the lead woman automatically know who Snow White is, when everyone in the kingdom thought she was dead for years? This is just a clumsy way to reveal to the Huntsman exactly who he nearly gutted back there.
Let’s have some rather unnecessary angst. ‘Why didn’t you tell me who you were?’ ‘I didn’t trust you, why should I?’ You know what? That’s a very good point. Why the hell should she confide in a rude and threatening man who – I want to stress this again – tracked her down and was going to kill her?
And then the Huntsman LEAVES, because everything he loves he LOSES and he can’t lose HER and I don’t care, you’ve only known her for the better part of an afternoon.
Anyway, this thing is called Snow White and the Huntsman. You’ll be back.
WHAT’S HIS FACE, WHY WOULD YOU SET THE VILLAGE ON FIRE, YOU MIGHT KILL HER RENDERING THIS WHOLE THING UTTERLY POINTLESS. You eejit.
Look, the Huntsman’s back again! Told you so. Kristen Stewart, close your mouth. ‘We have to help them!’ ‘You will, by getting away!’ Goodbye, village of scarred women who will never show up in the film again, you were mildly intriguing while you lasted.
And, amidst the chaos and the fire and the slaughter and such, guess what? Now Will recognises Snow as well, even though he hasn’t seen her since they were children either.
By the by, riddle me this: how did What’s His Face and his henchmen get through the Dark Forest without a guide in the end?
And now we get Ravenna’s backstory as she’s having a pretty single tear while giving us a lovely view of her emaciated back.
It seems she was once a peasant and her village got attacked and her…mother, I think, I could be wrong, cast a spell that made little Ravenna really pretty and generally irresitable, and instantly turned the attacking king into a paedophile and he carried Ravenna off, presumably to rape her.
That’s the implication I got, at least, so thanks for that mum.
Although at least it saved Ravenna from being killed, so there is that too.
What’s His Face, it turned out, actually had a name, Finn, and he had the same haircut when he was little. At least it looked sort of all right on him then. Plus we get the whole ‘By fairest it is done and by fairest it shall be undone’ line. And…
…am I seriously the only one who thought there was a missed opportunity here? Ravenna and Finn could have been Hansel and Gretel. I know it would have mixing fairy tales a lot, plus ‘Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters’ is out now, but think about it; Gretel could have learned magic from the witch and then gotten revenge on their father and step-mother for abandoning them, and hated the idea of growing old because it meant she’d be like the witch who she hated, and she took her revenge out ON THE WHOLE WORLD…
…I should write some of this down. Other than here, I mean. Anyway, getting back on track, I was thankful that at least they didn’t try to go through her whole backstory and explain absolutely everything, even though I did still really want to know where she got the mirror.
More ‘I’ll take you to wherever’ vows, before they get captured and beaten up by the dwarves. Why are the dwarves even in this film? It’s not a good sign when I’m wondering why they’ve included the dwarves in a film about Snow White. This was a surreal experience as I gradually realised who was playing some of them – Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins??? What are you doing in this, Bob Hoskins? Also the actor who played the Dream Lord in Doctor Who, whose name I can’t remember.
Do the Huntsman and the dwarf leader know each other? Does the blind dwarf have spider senses? Does Gus have a crush on Snow? This is all so pointless. Besides, there are eight of them, so you know the script’s going to do some cast trimming soon.
Also, guess what? Even the dwarves know who Snow White is. Well, Muir the blind dwarf does at least, and he has some strange sort of clairvoyence and thus an actual reason to be in the know, if only to convine the others.
Why did that henchman guy sniffing the ropes, why does he do that, why? I thought it might come up again in that he was revealed to be a werewolf or some such, which would actually be really interesting – but no, he just sniffs the ropes and gets shot later.
The colour palate of the film brightens up again, at long last. Eyes that have been used and abused by greys and blacks can finally take delight in green grass and sunlight, and…toadstools with eyes in them, and…grassy snakes, and grassy tortoises. Huh. So, what might this delightful and extremely weird place be?
‘It’s Sanctuary, home of the fairies.’
Why, Bob Hoskins, why are you in this? Why the stupid conversations about ‘needing to protect her’ and ‘you are destined’ and all that bullcrap, why the dancing why the bad singing whyyyyyyyyyyyy.
Also, that bit about seeing light in the darkness? Hold onto that thought, it’ll crop up later.
THERE ARE MINI GOLLUMS COMING OUT OF THE MAGPIES AND RIDING ON THE GRASSY TORTOISES AND BADGERS AND HAVING CLOSE UPS SO THEY CAN TRAUMATIZE US WITH THEIR CREEPY SMILES AAAAAA.
In addition, lens flare.
Kristen Stewart, close your mouth. Moving swiftly on, I know that there are a lot of ‘White Hart’ myths in European folklore, so I didn’t really want to say Princess Mononoke rip off, but…come on, PRINCESS MONONOKE RIP OFF. Especially in light of what’s coming. The only way Snow would be any more messianic is if flowers bloomed where her feet trod, which would be even more of a Princess Mononoke rip off. But I did actually like this scene, despite the creepy fairies and the dwarves commentating, because it was really damn pretty and the White Hart actually looked like it was real, for once.
Being shot in the neck causes the White Hart not to die but to explode into a cloud of butterflies. Annnnnnd cue the chase scene. At least Snow doesn’t recognise Will at first, for a change, which is marginally more realistic. Heroic Sacrifice Gus reporting for duty!
He gets shot. And I didn’t care.
What’s His Face, don’t taunt the grieving badass widower with the knowledge you raped/murdered/both of the aforementioned (delete as appropriate) his beloved wife. Just don’t.
Kudos to Charlize Theron, though, she really gave her all into the whole thrashing and writhing around on the floor, as the only man she’s ever loved is skewered on a tree root and she can’t heal him. This was touching in a warped sort of way, since I actually got the connection between them. It was creepy as all get out, but I still got it. It was about the only emotional connection in this film…unlike the next bit.
Because Gus is dying. Surely if Snow White is the Messiah, her tears can heal him? Apparently the screen writers knew when they were pushing it. So he dies. And I didn’t care.
Awkward funeral scene ahoy, with Gus being cremated. Kristen Stewart, close your mouth. If dwarves live underground, shouldn’t they have burial rites that don’t involve fire? And I just didn’t care, because we never got to know Gus besides the fact he played the violin/fiddle, was the youngest of the lot and had a crush on Snow. To take an example from another fantasy film: Eragon was a terrible film, but most people did at least care a little bit when Bronn died. Why? Because we got to know him and sympathise with him – and realised that, with his death, the film was that much worse off in terms of acting talent. Here, we have a character who’s had maybe fifteen minutes of screen time – that he’s had to share with nine other characters – and we’re supposed to equate his passing with…
…I don’t know, that of Boromir, who also had to share his screen time with eight other characters but still managed to make us weep.
I wasn’t crying here, because I didn’t care.
There is singing too, which we’re supposed to equate with…I don’t know, Pippin singing as Faramir rides to his death. Only one of them is doing it. I thought the others were going to join in, but they didn’t. And who’s that disembodied woman who sings the last line?
Terrible travel montage. Hah, Will got a ‘We’re just friends.’ And, to rub it in, the Huntsman is helping Snow over streams.
Snow, you honestly should have been suspicious as soon as ‘Will’ brought out the apple. Where would he have gotten that? And surely he would have mentioned it earlier? Aaaand Snow got her first kiss from her stepmother. I’ll give them this, though; her reaction to being poisoned with all the coughing and choking is much better than just gasping a bit and then falling down. And
OH DEAR GOD FACE MELTING NO NOSE OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH GAAAAAA
DEAR SWEET JESUS TAR RAVENS GO SPLAT AND RAVENNA LEAVES A TAR SNAIL TRAIL AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
…moving right along…
So they’re doing it differently in that, ‘Oh no, the prince’s kiss doesn’t waken her!’ Even though Will isn’t a prince. No matter how much they change it, it’s still pretty creepy that he kisses her on the lips when he thinks she’s dead. I was waiting for the Huntsman to kiss her, because it’s Snow White and the Huntsman, OF COURSE he’s going to be the one to wake her up. OF COURSE HE IS.
Wait, they made the dwarves carry her? I know there’s a lot of them but still, I hope they volunteered rather than being drafted in. I was still waiting for Chris Hemsworth to earn the rest of his pay check and kiss Kristen Stewart.
So they clean her up and put her in a pretty dress and don’t give her any shoes? It seems that Kristen Stewart can only close her mouth when she’s DEAD, even though she’d have an excuse to leave it open for once.
I was waiting for the Huntsman to stop waffling about his dead wife whose name was Sara, or possibly Zara, he was mumbling a lot, and just get on with it and kiss her already.
‘Now you will be a queen in heaven.’ I’m pretty sure the Virgin Mary will have something to say about that, since you seem to be Catholics and all. And thank god, he finally kisses her – on the lips. Again. What’s wrong with the forehead or the cheeks, why the lips? You were talking about your beloved dead wife a moment ago, now you’re snogging a corpse? At least he was less likely to get vomit in his mouth than Will.
So Snow wakes up crying, and then proceeds to give a speech. It is a bad speech. What was she even saying, forging iron and light in darkness? I get the reference to what the dwarves said earlier, but you have no idea what you’re talking about. Everyone cheers anyway, possibly because they can tell the film will be over soon. I was bent over double in laughter and disbelief at how bad this all was.
That’s a whole lot of drained girls on the floor. As an aside, what is it with Ravenna and ravens and wearing their feathers? Aside from the obvious, I just got that about her name. It’s never really explained, unless it’s meant to be a parallel to ‘hair as black as a raven’s wing’. In the version I grew up with, Snow White’s hair was black as ebony.
Another strange travel montage. I was waiting for the final fight.
How did the dwarves get there before them? I was waiting for the final fight.
How did the dwarves get up the cliff face? I was still waiting for the final fight.
Just a brief reminder: Snow, darling, perhaps you’ve forgetten but YOU CAN TAME TROLLS. WEAPONIZE THE TROLLS. GET THE FAIRIES TO HELP YOU. WHY ARE THE FAIRIES EVEN IN THIS FILM IF ALL THEY’RE GOING TO DO IS GIGGLE AND GURN AT THE CAMERA, WHYYYYYYY. I officially retracted my good opinion of the whole Sanctuary bit because now it turns out to have been completely pointless except to show how messianic Snow is.
Although I suppose the fairies did at least help her to get out of the castle at the start, there is that. I was raging and waiting for the final fight to start already.
The dwarves raise the portcullis by jumping on a rope, ending their part of the story. The final fight begins AT LAST, FINALLY. And I can’t tell what’s going on because everything’s shot too fast.
Fight fight fight.
Fight fight fight.
Oh, and now it appears Snow can run up a staircase in full armour. I sighed…but not too much, because a friend reminded me that a sign of good armour was being able to do a cartwheel in it.
And Snow sword fights now, too.
Though not very well.
Ravenna calls up stone splinter fragmenty things to fight all the remaining soldiers, and they repair themselves when hit. Well, that’s not good.
Ravenna smacks Snow around a whole lot while saying ‘You cannot defeat meeeeeeeeeeeee’ with deep throbbing breaths showing off that, hey, I’m clearly not wearing any support under this absolute cleavage dress but fear my bosom! FEAR IT. And she lectures Snow on how impossible it is to hurt her, as she deliberately stands in the fire to burn herself and then heals the burns. Okay, now you’re just showing off. GET ON WITH IT ALREADY, KILL HER.
Then Snow White actually does kill her. Which really seemed ridiculously mundane, she just stabs her. I thought there’d be a bit more to it than that. FINALLY, IT’S NEARLY OVER.
But it takes Ravenna about two frickin’ minutes to die first. I don’t really know what they were doing with this part. Maybe it was meant to evoke pathos, but I didn’t feel anything for her. Snow: ‘You can’t have my heart.’ I thought she was going to follow it up with something else, even something cliché like ‘It belongs to another’, but nope, that’s it. No shit she can’t have your heart, Snow, she’s drowning in her own blood. Yes, it’s nearly over.
I thought more would happen to Ravenna’s corpse when she died. The same with Finn’s, actually. Considering they’d both lived about twenty lifetimes, I was expecting an Indiana Jones ‘rot and wither into dust in seconds’ thing. But no, they just wrinkle up and shrink a little. Again, I was disapppointed. But hey, it was nearly over.
But then they have a coronation, and everyone has fancy clothes, and instead of a sceptre Snow has a tree branch with ribbons, because she has brought life back to the kingdom, hooray. She is too awesome for long sleeves, and it’s nearly over.
Aww, the dwarves have fancy stuff again and they don’t have to say any more stupid lines, everyone wins. Oh, and Greta’s back to normal now. How did that work? I didn’t care, because it was nearly over.
The Huntsman is standing at the far side of the CHAMBER and has to step past the royal honour guard thing so that she can even see him. They have a meaningful held gaze. What it means I wouldn’t care to venture a guess at. Now it has to be over.
CLOSE YOUR MOUTH KRISTEN STEWART. It’s over, it has to be over.
We have a tableaux of the throne room as everyone straightens up from bowing. Snow doesn’t move, she just stands there holding her branch with ribbons. Where did the Huntsman go? Oh, who cares? The camera moves back to where the doors must be and stops. All right, decent if generic ending shot; cut, take five people, that’s a wrap.
For the love of god, end this.
The doors close GOD, FINALLY.
It was stupid and pretty, but mostly stupid.