Okay, this is the big warning paragraph! I'm going to talk about Snow White and the Huntsman and if you haven't seen it don't read this blog because some of the things I want to talk about are spoilers of what happens in the film. So back away from the blog right now if you haven't yet seen the movie (and as it's opening weekend I can see how that could be true) and you are planning on seeing it.
Okay, all clear? Here we go...
Don't you hate when you really REALLY want a movie to be good and you sort of know in your heart that it isn't going to be but you REALLY want it to be so badly that you go to it filled with hope anyway only to realize pretty quickly that you were right to be wary? And then for me it's just worse when you see glimpses of the movie that could have been if it had been in someone else's hands... Snow White and the Huntsman is one of these films for me.
When the previews started my first reaction was cynicism. We all know the story, the Evil Queen is the fairest in all the land until Snow White with lips as red as blood and hair as black as night grows up and takes her place driving the Evil Queen to the largest fit of petty beauty jealousy in the land. So...the previews hit and I told Brent..."In what universe is Kristen Stewart fairer than Charlize Theron?" Then more of the movie trailers came out and it looked like they were going with the angle of maybe not fairer but able to destroy her. And she looked like a good bad guy to have to face. Turning into glass bits and ravens and chewing scenery like there was no tomorrow...maybe it would be good.
But there was always the warning bell (Bella?) of Kristen Stewart clanging in my head. Anytime I have seen previews for the movies she has been in, or interviews she has given I have always been thoroughly unimpressed. But I tried to convince myself that it wasn't really her fault. She has been locked in to playing one of the dullest literary creations in recent time. Bella Swan wasn't given a personality in the book series so you can't really expect her to be able to create one for the character right? Or...it could be that she was perfectly cast for the part. She's pleasant looking, but....well...as Brent put it, watching her try to emote at the end of the movie was almost painful. It was as though she couldn't decide what to go with, staunchly brave, slightly sad or ate a bad burrito for lunch.
But even putting her wooden performance aside the part that made me the saddest about Snow White and the Huntsman was that I could see the good movie in there that was trying to get out. Parts of it were very enjoyable. Parts of it had good bones. But it was wrapped up in a whole lot of nothing. The pacing was slow and off. The story drug in places and jumped what seemed like good opportunities for story progression in others. There were pieces of the dialog that I was rewriting in my head as we watched to give it more oomph. And you know that's when a movie isn't doing it's job. When you are fully aware the entire time you are watching a movie. When you never get lost in the story and just give yourself over to the tale.
And it's a good retelling of the story, or I should say it could have been a good retelling. I like fairy tales. I really do. And I like when people aren't afraid to take them down a darker path, after all the Brothers Grimm were just that...Grim. So an Evil Queen who sucks the life out of any woman who is beautiful to keep her own youth and beauty? Who can steal your heart (literally) by placing her hand on your chest? Who wears dresses made from bird's bones? An entire village of women who have intentionally scarred their faces so she won't bother them? And the scars are in lines that look like tears? Bring it on! I'm even for twisting the whole true love/pure love kiss ambiguity. There was a thread there that could have made an interesting part of the story and a kick ass ending as well. But of course it wasn't explored, it was suggested and then....nothing. The same with the scarred women. The scars had to be in lines like tears, the suggestion was there but not explanation. Which could have been lovely and sad and powerful to watch. Explore that some instead of spending time watching Snow walk through the woods while everyone talks about how lovely she is...
Spend more time with her and her father when she was a child so we can understand WHY the people would be devoted to him and then to her. Spend more time with her and William as children so we can understand why he loves her. Give me something here! Even a training montage where they work with Snow to teach her how to ride and fight would have been something. But yes, keep the ending battle the same, or at least close. But don't give me something in the beginning of Snow White and the Huntsman's first few scenes, come back to it, but not follow through! That was the last straw.
This will make sense to those that have seen the movie. In the woods the Huntsman teaches Snow a little bit about self defense. Block with this arm, use the other to drive your blade in to your opponents chest to the hilt and leave it there until you see their soul. So in the end you know that's how she is going to kill the Queen. But she doesn't! She only goes half way. You even still see part of the blade out of her chest. The EQ pulls the blade out and slithers over to her mirror where she ages and dies while Snow tells her..."You can't have my heart." NO NO NO....I'm calling for a rewrite here!
The Queen comes in for the kill...Snow blocks and drives the blade in....we see half the hilt of the blade as the Queen reaches out for Snow's chest she almost reaches her heart when Snow says..."You can't have my heart." beat...pause...beat...then drives the blade home..."you already broke it when you killed my father."
See? More oomph! More power! More Snow White taking control and actually winning. It was close in parts. The movie was right there in parts. Just knocking on the door begging to be a really good movie. Instead I was left with wanting to tell Snow White to close her mouth and breath through her nose. Wanting to rewrite entire scenes, cut others and rearrange the whole lot of it in to a better film. And of course wanting Chris Hemsworth to take his shirt off more than the one time he did. So I guess that's what it boils down to. It was good in parts, could have been really good and needed more naked Huntsman scenes.