Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

When we went to Florida last year, we stopped at a gas station to pee. Because it was Florida, the station doubled as a tourist trap, as they all did, and I typically darted into the toilet only to emerge to quell the ‘I wants’. Except it wasn’t an ‘I want’ at this particular station. It was “Mom, LOOK, this shirt is perfect for you!!”.

I'm Grumpy, Don't Make It Worse

I'm Grumpy, Don't Make It Worse

And she did this with the wide eyed innocence of the truth speakers. (I was in the midst of a hell med change during that whole summer; I’m not surprised at this perception.) (Naturally, and unlike when she ‘I want’ed me, I bought her something. And her brother.)

And that is how I came into possession of the perfect shirt to wear when I went to see Snow White and the Huntsman tonight. (Because I couldn’t wear the night shirt that says “I’m AWAKE, what more do you want?”). I should clarify right up front that I HATE Disney’s Snow White. But I love Grumpy Dwarf, because he’s such a jerk. He’s the only one whose performance pleases me in that damned cartoon. I harbored secret hopes that the dear princess might die in this version. Or, that failing, that they might toughen her up. Yes. I was cheering for the evil queen going in. And, by the end, yes, I was rooting for Snow White

The filmmakers did give Disney a couple of classy nods. Often, in the Disney flick, the evil queen is presented as a face against a white background. In Huntsman, the queen did this weird bathing in milk thing, and as she descended into the bath, her face was framed against the white background for just an instant. Later, there’s a shot of Snow White’s face that is unmistakably intended to mimic the Disney version of the girl. (But I will say, I got at least one thing I wanted. This Snow White was not anybody’s sniveling housekeeper.) There was also a total Beastmaster moment. Snow White is trudging around in a dangerous spot and she gets approached in the mist by these bat-like creatures (and one giant bat) that absolutely resemble the giant monsters that wrap victims in their arms and suck out their bodily essence before spitting out their wasted carcasses. (Fun!)

I have to say, the movie was awesome. But I have gripes. (I always have gripes. Few indeed are the films that don’t leave me with at least a small list of annoyances.) So rather than go and recite the plot and give half of your hearts angst about spoilers, I shall proceed with a list of things that I loved and loathed about the film. (I personally love spoilers, but in this case have enough to talk about without divulging anything too unexpected.)

Things I loathed

At one point, Snow White takes a dangerous and unexpected swim. (She throws herself off a cliff.) I won’t complain about ‘hey, why the hell wasn’t she dashed on the rocks like any other human being?’, but I will question why she could jump into the water in this heavy-ass dress and not either drown or have to take it off? Why could she emerge from the water half a scene later and have the dress only yanked down around her shoulders instead of completely torn from her body?

Then, when she drags herself to the safety of the shore, there is a white horse just sitting there waiting for her. A random white horse. Did the bad guys figure she needed some help and try to give her a head start? Did the forces of nature sense her coming and put in her path to salvation the animal which would make her stick out the most in a barren landscape? If the baddies, why give her a horse? Why not hang out with a sword? If the goodies, why not make it a black horse at least? Why send your least camouflage friendly animal into battle with your very mortal potential savior? I don’t get it.

Then, even though Snow White had the occasional smudge of dirt, and there were a few truly filthy scenes, everything was generally too clean. At one point, a sewer tunnel is in play, but nobody is markedly stained by their wade through shit. (And, when complaining about this, and doubtless to avoid an R rating, somebody says ‘poo’. POO. It’s SHIT people, and no battle stained warrior (or butch princess) would call in POO.) But then again, these were people living in a ravaged land, who had been suffering for at least ten years under the evil queen’s rule who had the whitest teeth on the planet. I mean, who brought the Crest to the middle ages? (I saw my dentist as I left the show. Honest, I did. He swears it wasn’t him.) Between them, there wasn’t a single missing tooth, and there were only a few crooked ones. Seriously?

And finally, the huntsman goes through this whole film in a leather jerkin. Or possibly just leather armor. If that. At one point everybody, Snow White included, is wearing mail of some kind. Except he’s not. And I want to know both where they hid all the silver shiny stuff in this age of suffering that they could pull it out and stuff it on the serfs when the time came, and why they didn’t have enough for this single central character. The Huntsman never gets an armor upgrade. It seems deliberate. It is annoying.

But that’s a short list of gripes for me, and by and large I loved the film. The acting was solid, the scenery was good, the music rocked, and I think the horse scenes were probably done well. (I haven’t heard my equestrian friends howling yet, at any rate. Dad, have Shari and Elise seen it?)

Huntsman was chock-full of strong female characters. It wasn’t just Snow White and the evil queen. At one point, we are introduced to this whole secret city of women who have disfigured themselves (um, by doing bumpy makeup, I think) and their daughters to save them from the evil queen’s roving eye. They have to do some fleeing, and also, they provide Snow White with a convenient outfit change. (Yes, she does manage as many costumes as the evil queen, not all of them so plausibly obtained.)

There was also this wonderful black/white symbolism going on, whereby the blonde evil queen was pitted against the raven-haired snow white. But this wasn’t just a color reversal. Because the evil queen used a lot of black glass and black crows to symbolize her evil. And Snow White got the White Hart and a bunch of white butterflies to symbolize good. (And the contrast did work very well for the film.)

Finally, the evil queen could, by power of her magic, heal herself and others with a touch. It’s implied that her ability is dangerous and unnatural. Snow White can do the same thing, but where the evil queen parses out her healing, reserving it for herself and her brother, Snow White heals things simply by being around them. She is Nature Girl in the truest sense, and the nature analogies actually worked for the character in the film (unlike her Disney predecessor).

In my new arbitrary ratings scale, I give it three triangles up. (The Jester’s Cap is basically a floppy crown. Mine happens to have four triangular points.) It loses a triangle for strange plot gaps and a lack of grime, but the other three are well earned for strong acting, a good script, and kickass music.

 

 

About jesterqueen:
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.

Comments

Review: Snow White and the Huntsman — 19 Comments

  1. Love the shirt! I found one for my son, who's daughter is 16 and wanting to date, that says: D.A.D.D. (Dads Against Daughters Dating). I don't think he's taken it off since I presented it to him for his birthday last January.

  2. I think that a lot of your gripes about the film are true of most films, especially from Hollywood. Everything and everyone has to be 'clean', it's better for egos perhaps. And everyone either wears all the same clothes but with no increasing dirt or changes every two seconds. I'm not sure which is more unbelievable. Teeth too is a good point. Hollywood perhaps hasn't heard that you can have bad teeth. I love your T-shirt. And I think your nightie is brilliant. 🙂
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    • Yes, I like the French attitude better. My favorite too-clean clothing moment is still Princess Leia climbing out of the garbage chute perfectly dry and stain free. Snow White at least presents the illusion of dirt, but I don't think these people can really imagine the level of filth human beings – especially castle dwellers – lived with in that era.

  3. Elyse and Shari haven't seen the flick, but I will mention it to them. I just saw an interview with the actors and some scenes from the Huntsman and I appreciate the heads up. Do you feel the film covers the research of the Grimm brothers – does the film augment some of the original tale?
    On a different note, I hear that the new Depp / Burton collaboration, Dark Shadows, is a hoot!

    • The film downplays some of the most horrible aspects of the original tale (remember, I hate Snow White in its purest form, and, quite frankly, Disney approached the original tale pretty closely in that regard.) It changed the way the huntsman comes into the story, since the queen prefers to rip out these girls hearts herself, or, that failing, drink their souls. It gave him a grittier history, and a darker reason for nearly killing Snow White. And in the original tale, the huntsman kind of wanders out of the story after he takes the queen the boar's heart, but he's in this one the whole way. The whole dwarf thing is handled much better, too. In all, I prefer this to the sexist brothers Grimm.

  4. I want to see it, and I will forgive much if Kristen Stewart does more than mouthbreathe when she "acts." Including white horses and leather jerkins 😉

    • It's a very good film – which is probably why I could forgive the oddities. I pick the nits whether I like a film or not, but if I don't like it, the nits make me itch and break out in a screaming rash. (Just ask anybody who has to sit near me!)

  5. Glad I stopped over to read this as we are going today/tonight to see this, I think. It got decent 3 star reviews in the Chicago Trib so you just confirmed the rating as an actual person who saw this. I’m not a fan of K.S. so I will have to get over that. Thanks.
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    • She's good in this. There are a couple of 'mooning' moments when she's looking all wonder-eyed. I kind of wnated to bop her head those times, but mostly those also involved CGI, and the CGI was exceptionally well done, so the two balanced each other out.

  6. We are going to see this today/tonight so I was happy to come over and read. Got decent reviews in our paper so you just confirmed. I'll just have to get over my annoyance with KS. Thanks. (if this comment comes through twice, sorry. I already left one but it didn't show up)
    My recent post Dear Ann Landers: About Showing Up

    • Yeah – I haven't quite figured out how to make intense debate at least tell people if they land in the moderation queue. I tend to assume I've fallen into ethernet hell if I don't get a message of some sort, because these days, word press is totally apt to just vanish a comment without warning when I click 'submit'.

  7. Love the shirt!! Thanks for the review. I've been curious about this movie, but I don't know anyone who has seen it, other than you.
    My recent post I Almost Screwed Myself

  8. Love the shirt! I was given something vaguely similar a long time ago when I wasn't even being cranky — I swear! Anyway, I have my fingers crossed that I may be able to see this movie so I didn't read past the "Things I loathed" part because I'm weird that way.

    I was taken aback, before reading anything in this post, by your new header and the bottle cap buttons on the side. I loooove the bottle caps, but the lilac and blue, not so much. I find myself wondering if something similar to those delightfully scratched and mottled colors could somehow make a new header for your internet home… they seem more you. But you didn't ask, so I'm going to shut up now.

    • No worries – you know I like the truth above all things. I’m fond of the new look, but I see your point. I’m pretty gritty, not very girly, and purple and light blue do give off a girly glow. I look more at the purple to symbolize royalty (I’m the jester queen), the light blue to symbolize honesty (like a clear blue sky), and the cream to symbolize purity (as in pure writing. Not innocence). 😉

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