Snow White and the Huntsman–Movie Review

3 Stars

Snow White and the Huntsman is an attempt to retell the story of Snow White as High Fantasy. It greatly expands the role of the huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) who was a very minor character in the original story. It is a dark and violent movie that is quite well written (at least by the standards of movie fantasies.) It has some strikingly beautiful visual imagery. I think this had the potential to be a really great movie but there are some serious flaws that make it a disappointment.

The biggest flaw is the way it looks. I mentioned that it has striking visual imagery. That’s probably too kind. More precisely, it looks like it should be striking but it’s all so dim and washed out that it is hard to be sure.

This is a common problem with today’s CGI-heavy movies. I think it arises late in the production process when the computer-generated special effects are added and the director realizes with a sinking feeling that some of them just don’t look believable. Fortunately with today’s digital production techniques that is easily dealt with: just turn down the brightness and the contrast to the point where the audience can’t see them well. You can claim that you are giving the movie a dark atmosphere.

Generally the result looks just awful and robs the movie of most of its impact. The real solution is to hoard your special effects budget. Invest fewer special effects but make sure that the ones you do use look really good, so that you are not ashamed to let the audience have a good look at them. A few directors can do this; many cannot.

Another problem is with the acting. The movie envisions a more dynamic and heroic Snow White, a role that calls for an actress with genuine charisma. Perhaps Kristen Stewart could play a more conventional Snow White, but in this role she just isn’t convincing.

On the other hand Charlize Theron makes a great Evil Queen and Sam Spruell is quite convincing as her monstrous brother.

Another weakness is the soundtrack. Most great movies have great background music. This is an important part of what makes them effective, even if you aren’t consciously aware of it. The soundtrack in this case seems like an afterthought. It just doesn’t contribute anything.

The result is a moderately entertaining but forgettable move, but one that feels like it could have been vastly better with just a little more effort.

Incidentally there seemed to be far to many little kids in the theater. Parents need to take the PG-13 rating seriously. This is not really suitable for pre-teens. There is no smoking, cussing or sex, but there is a lot of violence and some of it is nightmare-quality.

1 thought on “Snow White and the Huntsman–Movie Review

  1. bevalan

    Guess I will take a pass. I can get enough nightmares after I go to bed.
    Loved the Marigold Hotel, though. Now that was an enjoyable fairy tale.

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