It seems churlish to give this movie one thumb up and one thumb undecided, given that I wholeheartedly approve of it in theory. An authentically scary queen, siege warfare, an ending that doesn’t include a wedding? Sign me up!
Well, OK. I did in fact hope for a wedding at the end. But what you want and what is right are sometimes different things. This is a grown-up version of Snow White, and I respect the writers for following through on the whole “oh ho ho, this ain’t the kiss that does the trick!” thing.
But the movie wasn’t perfect; some parts were disappointing. Let’s start with the good stuff:
Charlize Theron. Magnificent! Period. Remember the movie Monster? I have yet to see it, but one thing it proved was that this is an actress who’s not afraid to be creepy, scary, and mean. Excellent special effects in her corner, too. I loved seeing her get old, turn young, suck the lifeforce out of young girls and (my favorite!) crawl out of a sticky soup of bird feathers on her return from poisoning Snow White.
Kristen Stewart. Some didn’t buy her being lovelier than the Evil Queen. But the queen was angry most of the time, and haggard at others. And K-Stew had that swell lighting that made her look like Bella after the vampire transformation. So yes, you could say she was loveliest of them all. Some also worried that Stewart wouldn’t be able to pull off an English accent. I don’t think it mattered much. The overall concern was to be sure she didn’t sound like a mumbling American 20-something, and she didn’t, so let’s move on.
A big thank you to the wardrobe and/or makeup people who kept Snow White’s fingernails dirty, gave her britches under the dress, and put her hair in a ponytail for the fight scenes. Someone out there got the memo that this is supposed to be a different kind of princess-in-peril story. Nothing annoys me more than a heroine running around in heels and inappropriate garb when she’s fighting for her kingdom. So they got that right.
One more unqualifiedly good thing about the movie: the special effects and how it looked. If you’ve seen the trailer, you know. The trailer didn’t lie about the art direction or effects—how desolate the betwitched town was, how enchanted the forest, the cool way the black glass shattered into the four winds.
So why the “undecided” thumb? Well….
For a movie called “…and the Huntsman,” there really wasn’t a lot of hunting. In fact, when the queen’s creepy brother, Finn, saw that the huntsman had captured Snow White in the first five minutes of the hunt, he said something along the lines of, “Oh you caught her already?” When this happened, I had a kind of sinking feeling that the rest of the film wasn’t going to be all that suspenseful.
Also, why did they shrink down Ian McShane, Toby Jones et al. to make up Snow White’s contingent of dwarves? Looks like there is one job and one job only in town if you’re a little person. Peter Dinklage owns it, and too bad for the rest of you. I’m not normally a person who goes around looking for injustice, but the casting of this was not cool.
As a military commander, Snow White blows. It’s not her fault that the rousing the troops speech was less than stellar and the setup had a canned feeling. The writers made it clear early on that everyone who experienced Snow White’s goodness and beauty was enraptured. The villagers would have followed her even if she had stood up and said, “Which way did he go, George? Which way did he go?”
But if she was smart enough to get Dopey and Sneezy into the castle walls, why didn’t she send William the archer in there, too? He could have taken out some of the guys around the fireball-flinger; it would have saved a lot of men on the beach.
The showdown with the Evil Queen was a letdown. I don’t think Snow White had a plan as to exactly how she was going to take down Ravenna when she came face to face with her. Instead, she let the queen kill most of her best guys—very cinematic, but unfortunate for those concerned—and only stabbed her when the queen came around to her.
Now that I think of it, it’s a wonder there were any male villagers left to witness the coronation scene. And you know what? I changed my mind about the wedding. There should have been one. What’s the point of scoring the crown if you can’t end a hard campaign with freshly scrubbed fingernails, a tankard of ale, and a hunky huntsman by your side?