If it's crap ... We'll tell you
For those of you who don't obsessively keep up with movie news, several people in Hollywood all had the same idea of taking a well-known fairy tale and giving it a modern and stylistic treatment. While Snow White and the Huntsman is far better than the atrocious Red Riding Hood and Mirror Mirror, the other Snow White movie from just a few months ago, this isn't close to the movie that it should have been. There's plenty of potential here as first-time director Rupert Sanders and everyone involved in creating the world all had their hearts in the right place and knew exactly what the fuck they were doing. And that's what's frustrating about this movie because all of this is brought down by stupid mistakes made by the screenwriters and casting. I'm done giving excuses to Kristen Stewart, who is extraordinarily miscast in this film. She's given decent performances before, but when you act a docile and dull bitch (a.k.a Bella Swan) when you're supposed to be the fairest in the kingdom (beautiful and strong in the context of the film), I'm fucking done with you.
While the plot hits all of the notes that you'd expect from a Snow White movie, the filmmakers are smart enough to twist the famous Brothers Grimm story just enough to keep the narrative side of the movie from being tedious. We see the standard prologue detailing Snow White's childhood and her friendship with William (Sam Claflin), but the first twenty minutes are all about Ravenna, The Evil Queen (Charlize Theron). She convinces the king, who is Snow White's father, to marry her and kills him shortly after the wedding. Now she is in control of the kingdom and quickly turns everything into a dark, depressing shithole. One day, her magical mirror on the wall tells her she can become immortal by consuming the heart of the fairest person of them all, Snow White of course. She has been imprisoned in the dungeons of the castle, but manages to escape right when the Queen needs her most thanks to a hilariously convenient white horse sitting on the beach for no apparent reason. Ravenna hires the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to find her after she runs into the Dark Forest, but he ends up protecting her and joining her on a quest to take down the evil queen.
I can't emphasize enough that Kristen Stewart is absolutely terrible in this movie; at no point during this movie was I not rooting for the Evil Queen to eat Snow White's heart. Speaking of, Charlize Theron is one of the best things about Snow White and the Huntsman. She is overacting her ass off in this shit to the point where she is literally screaming out half of her lines. It's amazing to think that she won on Oscar once watching her, but all of it works. The beginning of the movie is fun and promising because of her, but sadly there's a point where the movie remembers it's called Snow White and the Huntsman and instead focuses on them. Those are also ironically the two least interesting characters in the movie and Charlize Theron disappears for far too long. Her incredibly lame brother (Sam Spruell) replaces her as the villain and the movie quickly turns to shit. Chris Hemsworth, who admits that his character is just Thor with an axe instead of a hammer, is just as terrible as Kristen Stewart and the two couldn't have less chemistry if they tried. What brings the movie back up again are the seven dwarfs, who all charming even if the movie never gives them enough to do. Sam Clafin's character is also not used enough, which is a shame because he is surprisingly badass and the Snow White from Disney's 1937 animated classic is much more badass than the one in this film.
Despite all of this, Snow White and the Huntsman is a movie that is impossible for me to hate. Why? Because the set design, visual effects, cinematography, and make-up are all fantastic and deliver exactly was promised in the trailers. The queen's castle and surrounding area has a Game of Thrones style of medieval fantasy, but you also have places like the Sanctuary, an area filled with picture-book fairytale creatures and foliage. All of it looks amazing and is blended together seamlessly by the director to create a beautiful and unique fantasy world. I have little doubt that director Rupert Sanders will later go on to make an excellent film once he gets a decent script and actors who are appropriately cast. The Evil Queen becomes older whenever a part of her dies, such as one of the ravens that she can transform into, showcasing some of the best old age make-up yet seen on film. The fight scenes, though not terrible, are often poorly edited or shot too close, but there are many gorgeous shots and visual effects sequences throughout the film that serve as a reminder that at least the people behind the camera are still awake.
Sadly, what takes the audience out of the film is some of the terrible dialogue. It seemed as if every line of dialogue in the first half of this movie began with "I". I am this, I am going here, I think that, over and over and over again. Because of terrible writing like this, it's takes far too long for us to give two shits about any of the characters. I'm beginning to think that no screenwriter in Hollywood is writing more than one draft of anything anymore as there is shit in here that there is just no excuse for. For example, when Snow White wakes from the dead after eating the iconic poison apple, she goes on about how she wants to kill the bitch who did this. The response is "You need to rest". She's been resting for the past few days you fucking idiots! The protagonist herself is also glaringly underdeveloped, but a strong actress could have added the extra dimension needed. Except you have Kristen Stewart speaking in an embarrassing fake British accent (everyone in this film has a different accent for some reason) who makes Snow White even more flat, boring, and weak than she is written. By the time you get to the climax with her dressed in battle armor leading an army, she is laughably unconvincing.
Snow White and the Huntsman is a very frustrating movie not because it is offensively bad and no one cares, but because all of the mistakes it makes are stupid and should have easily been avoided. If they had cast anyone other than Kristen Stewart and screenwriters Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock, and Hossein Amini had bothered to reread and revise their script, this would be a damn good movie. It proves that it is possible to do a dark and modern fairy tale correctly, but it's unlikely that next year's Jack the Giant Killer or Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters will be as technically or tonally wonderful as this. It's a god damn shame. There are long moments of this film where the film is Some Ol' Bullshit, equally long moments where it is a Rental, and just much it is able to reach a Matinee. Even with it being so criminally uneven, I felt I should go easy on this and rate it on its highs as this is a film that will work best on a large screen and it should attract a large audience over the summer. But when you cast Kristen Stewart as "the fairest of them all", you can't expect me to want to be fair on this.