“You Can’t Have My Heart.”

After the, ah, experience that was Batman & Robin, my friends and I went looking for a new drinking game movie. The final pick?

snowhite

It wasn’t quite as bad as I was expecting, probably because I’m still fresh off Battlefield Earth. But that said . . . it was pretty bad.

SUMMARY:

Dude, it’s Snow White. Only Snow is Bella, the Huntsman is Thor, and the Wicked Queen is Aileen Wournos. What else do you really need to know?

NOTES:

1. Some drinking game rules:

Drink whenever . . .

A. The Huntsman drinks.
B. There is slow-motion anything.
C. Snow White has some kind of Moment with a creature.
D. Snow White looks around in open-mouthed wonder at something.
E. You hear the sound of breaking glass.

Friendly tip: if you’re playing with hard liquor, you may not want to invoke Rule E unless you want to chug your tequila for about four minutes straight.

glass battle

This scene happens five minutes into the movie. If we had played with tequila, I would be dead right now.

2. The most baffling thing about Snow White and the Huntsman is that it’s both ridiculously absurd and kind of boring, all at the same time. One of the many, many problems with this film is that it’s 127 minutes long for absolutely no reason that I can tell. There is a lot of filler in this movie, and unfortunately, a lot of that filler includes CGI. Some of it is, I suppose, entertaining in a “what the fuck is happening to me right now” kind of way, but then some of it — like the troll fight — is just boring.

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This movie wants to be Pan’s Labyrinth so hard. It’s fails,

3. Although, in the interest of fairness, this film is gorgeous.

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If I judged movies purely on how pretty and awesome they looked, Snow White and the Huntsman would be an A+. There are some beautiful, beautiful shots in here. Unfortunately, I also tend to look at little things like dialogue and plot and acting.

4. Oh, acting.

I have categorized this review as a blasphemy, and it’s not because this movie was particularly well received. No, I’m tagging it as such because of the following statement: in this film, Kristen Stewart outacts Charlize Theron

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WHAT?!?!?!

I know. I almost don’t believe it either, but for my money, it’s the truth. Kristen Stewart doesn’t make for a particularly exciting Snow White — which is to say that she’s utterly devoid of character — but her performance isn’t particularly horrific, and the writing really does her no favors of any kind.

Whereas Charlize Theron . . . well, she starts out totally okay. And then about maybe fifteen to twenty minutes into the movie — right when Snow White is escaping from the castle –well, that’s unfortunately when all the random yelling begins.

People, this movie ought to have been called Snow White and All the Random Yelling.

I’m not saying that the Wicked Queen doesn’t have cause to be pissed. I don’t mind that she yells — I mind that she keeps yelling. She screams at least half her lines in this movie and slowly over-pronounces all the other ones. You can taaaaaalk liiiiiiike THIIIIIISSSSSS!!!!!!! for a scene, but you don’t deeply intone every word in the whole film.

If this movie was a campy cheesefest of awesome, then maybe Theron’s performance would make sense, but Snow White and the Huntsman takes itself extremely seriously. Which is severely unfortunate.

Oh, and about the Huntsman himself . . .

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. . . he’s okay, I suppose, but it’s easily my least favorite thing I’ve ever seen Chris Hemsworth do. His actual acting is decent enough — there’s not a whole lot to the Huntsman — but for some reason, he’s going for Scottish? And it . . . doesn’t sound right. At least to me, and admittedly, I have a lousy ear for most accents. Any Scottish readers, you feel free to correct me. But the accent sounded off, and I don’t think it’s just because I know Hemsworth is Australian. His American in Star Trek sounded a lot better to me, and I actually can judge American accents.

So, it threw me. And since the Huntsman’s nationality is in no way important to his actual character in the film, it seemed like a bad decision.

5. Also a bad decision? Having Hemsworth narrate the movie. Because not only does that just mean more accent, and not only is the writing terrible, but you don’t need a narrator for Snow White. Honestly. Everyone already knows it. Your version is not so spectacularly original that it needs help from a voiceover.

But I know, I know. It’s that whole storybook feel, right? Well, then, go for broke, you guys — don’t just have one of your characters narrating the story for absolutely no reason. Hire a really great actor who’s not in the movie to lend his voice to the production — like what Alec Baldwin does for The Royal Tenenbaums. You probably want someone English here, I’d imagine . . . maybe Emma Thompson or, hmm, Matthew Macfadyen. He has a very nice voice.

6. We should probably talk about the dwarves.

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There are a lot of well-known actors playing the dwarves, actors such as Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, and Nick Frost. These actors all have a couple of things in common. They’re all British, and they’re all emphatically not dwarves.

It seems . . . odd. I feel like if you have a story that asks for dwarves, you ought to cast actors who are, you know, dwarves. Or, if you really want these actors, you don’t CGI their heads on dwarf bodies or whatever. You just make them some random band of scarred outlaws in the woods, like in Snow White: A Tale of Terror.

Lily-and-Will-snow-white-a-tale-of-terror-20621461-640-426

I’m pretty sure this one’s Grumpy.

But casting actual dwarves would probably be the best call.

Still, okay, offensive or not, you’ve cast these actors as your dwarves. And it’s an impressive line-up of talent. No doubt they’ll actually have something to do.

. . . or not. Not only do the dwarves have very little in the way of actual character, they’re nearly functionless to the plot of the story. It’d be like deciding to make a movie with Brendan Gleeson and Alan Rickman, and then casting them as a couple of masked henchmen with four lines apiece.

7. Finally — before Spoilers, where we get to the real WTF of this movie — I just want to ask: why can’t we get a really good, interesting retelling of a fairy tale? Fairy tales are all over the place right now, but so many of the movies seem to be dull and terrible: Red Riding Hood was terrible. This was pretty terrible. Mirror, Mirror and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters certainly LOOKED terrible. (I guess I can’t say that they were for sure without having watched them myself, but I’d be surprised if they were anything more than adequate.)

I feel like if you’re going to make an adaptation of a fairy tale, you need to really do something new with it. You wanna put Snow White in armor, fine, but this one scene alone isn’t going to sell me Updated Heroine — Feminist Victory! What might have actually been a feminist victory was making Snow a real person instead of just PURE OF HEART. But instead, we get Bella White, who –instead of having actual character — is just goodness in a dress. It’s boring.

And taking a closer look at the Huntsman, changing the story so he sticks beside Snow White, examining a relationship between them . . . that sounds like a good idea, but it doesn’t really work if you don’t bother to write either of them actual characters. (Note: a one sentence, tragic cliche of a backstory does not count as actual character.) It would also help if you bothered to write a burgeoning relationship, instead of just forcing the two actors to share a few significant glances here and there.

There are all kinds of ways we can adapt Snow White. Why did we go with this one?

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

Okay, so, the movie begins with the usual nonsense: Snow White’s Mommy pricks her finger, bleeds all over the snow, and starts waxing poetic about what her unborn child will look like because, you know, that’s normal. She gives birth to Snow White and then promptly dies.

Some years later, the King and his warriors defeat an army of dudes that shatter apart like glass. They discover a beautiful prisoner, and the King immediately falls in love and marries her the next day because, like, dating isn’t a big thing in the fairy tale verse, and also because he’s never seen Return of the Jedi.

He’s also apparently not very versed in common Pillow Talk because when they’re in bed together, and Queen Ravenna — because of course that’s what her name is — is telling him all about her miserable childhood in between kisses, he seems to think that this is sexy or at least isn’t perturbed enough to push her off and go, “Wait, what?” Naturally, Ravenna kills the King and takes over with her own army. Little Snow White tries to escape with her best buddy, Will, but she is captured by Ravenna’s creepy brother, Finn.

(An aside: the Wicked Queen also had a creepy brother in Snow White: A Tale of Terror, although in that version, he was also the Huntsman. Still, it seems like an odd similarity to me, unless there’s a version of Snow White I haven’t read where the Queen actually does have an evil brother running around with her.)

So, Snow White is kept locked up for ten years, and most people seem to think she’s dead. Despite this, random people will, for no apparent reason, recognize her when the plot calls for it. Meanwhile, Ravenna is freaking out about getting old and ugly, since her power is based in her beauty and whatnot, and in between taking milk baths and drinking the youth out of young girls, she realizes that if she eats the heart of Pure, Innocent Snow White, she’ll be immortal and beautiful forever.

Unfortunately for her, Snow White escapes with the help of some birds and runs into the Shroom Dark Forest, where Ravenna has no power because of Reasons.

dark forest

Snow White hallucinates for about twenty years. I mean, it’s all very pretty, but it just keeps on going.

So, the Queen hires a drunk, unhappy, and randomly Scottish Huntsman who’s familiar with the Dark Forest to bring Snow back. He only agrees when the Queen promises to bring his dead wife back to life. After the Huntsman easily finds Snow White, Finn’s like, “Give her to me!” And the Huntsman’s like, “Not before I get my wife!” And Finn’s like, “You fool! Ravenna can’t bring people back from the dead!” And I’m like, “Why would you say that now, while he’s still in between you and Snow White! This makes no sense!”

Telling a dude you lied to get what you want before you actually get what you want: not a sound business strategy.

(Later, we’ll find out that Finn is the one who killed the Huntsman’s wife. Why? Why, God, WHY? This is the dumbest, most unnecessary plot twist I’ve ever seen. The Huntsman didn’t need proper motivation to kill an evil dude who’s already trying to kill him. Why would you throw in a, “Luke, I am your father,” moment here? I am seriously beginning to wonder if whoever wrote this movie intended for it to be campy and ridiculous, only to discover that the director had a dark version in mind, and was like, “Oh boy.”)

Anyway, the Huntsman and Snow escape. The Huntsman takes a moment to teach Snow White how to stab an opponent in a moment of such obvious foreshadow that I just want to weep. Then they run into a village of scarred women who help them. For their kindness, their village burns to the ground.

snow-white-huntsman-burning-village4

“Every time they make a Robin Hood movie, they burn our village down!”

Then Snow White and the Huntsmen come across the seven dwarves — actually, eight. It will be seven after one of them — the one that dances with Snow — bites the dust. It’s becoming quite apparent that, despite being the Pure, Innocent, Beautiful Princess Destined to Restore Beauty and Love to the Land, Snow White destroys everything she touches. You think I’m exaggerating? Because I forgot to mention the horse that she leaves behind to die in a mud pit.

tns_031NoahHathawayArtax

This movie wants to be The Neverending Story so hard. It fails.

Continuing her reign of terror . . . Snow White brings death to Sanctuary. Sanctuary, see, is the less dark part of the Dark Forest, where we’ve got these little blue and green faery dudes who pop out of birds for no reason.

faeries

Seriously, they just walk right out of the birds, and it’s weird. I don’t mind so much that they’re creepy looking, but they seem really out of place in the rest of the movie. I have no idea why the faeries are here, or really, any of Sanctuary. It’s more of that filler I was talking about. Even the burning village is kind of filler. This movie is seriously lacking on plot.

But back to Sanctuary. Snow White wakes up in the morning in some kind of vaguely explained faery trance, where she’s drawn towards a patronus The Great Prince of the Forest this Magical White Stag.

snow-white-huntsman-3

Now my friend Chris, he actually pauses the movie here as Snow approaches the stag and asks what I think is about to happen. (I was the only person in the room who hadn’t already seen this movie.) Flummoxed, I guessed that she would pet the stag and maybe take a ride  on him around the forest because it felt like that kind of moment, you know, all magical and inspirational, and she’s the Chosen One and whatnot. (I think I was really struck on the whole patronus thing, because I flashed to Harry Potter, where he flies on Buckbeak.)

Well, as you can see, Snow does pet the Magical White Stag. But then OUT OF NOWHERE someone shoots the stag with an arrow, and I’m sure this was supposed to be a sad moment, but the ridiculous abruptness of it made me laugh SO HARD. I was crying, I was laughing so hard. (I was also relieved to hear that everyone else had laughed the first time they had seen the movie too. I don’t mind so much being a monster, so long as I have company.)

I think this is about when the Huntsman kills Finn. It’s also around the time when the dwarf, Gus, actually bites it. Afterwards, the rest of the party travel over these hills and a melancholic song plays, and it’s all very pretty, but seriously.

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This movie wants to be Lord of the Rings so hard. It fails.

What else happens — oh yes, I’d forgotten all about Will. Snow’s childhood friend Will is, shockingly, the Wandering Necrophiliac Prince from the fairy tale, and he joins up with Finn’s hunting squad in order to find her. (The way he does this is kind of awesome — he tells Finn that his team needs an archer, then shoots the archer the team already has, and repeats that Finn’s team needs an archer. Imagine if that’s how people actually got jobs. Fill out an application? Pah. The only application I need is my employee’s dead body!)

So, Will reveals himself to Snow White and joins the Side of Good. Unfortunately, the Evil Queen pops over and pretends to be Will for a minute, giving Snow an apple to eat.

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The apples were a part of their childhood, see — not that the Queen would have any way of knowing that, but, you know. Logic. Moving on.

Will kisses her, but — what?! It does nothing! Snow is dead! Snow is dead! The movie is over! YAY!!!!

Well, that would have been awesome. Instead, they take Snow’s body back to Will’s people, and the Huntsman talks to her for a while about . . . shit, I don’t remember, probably something about love and redemption and hope and who knows. Anyway, he kisses her too, and after he goes away, she wakes up. She then proceeds to give the dumbest damn speech to rally the troops.

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When people talk about bad inspirational movie speeches, they always talk about Bill Pullman and Independence Day. Honestly, I never thought that his speech was that bad — I mean, it’s not riveting, but I don’t know it deserves all the hatred its gotten over the years. This, on the other hand, is a pretty terrible speech, and to be fair to Kristen Stewart, most of it isn’t her fault. All of that iron will melt bullshit? The fuck? What are you even talking about?

I expect Stewart didn’t know herself because she randomly yells some words that don’t actually sound like words you would yell in a triumphant speech. On the other hand, even though the speech is utterly and totally incoherent, there’s a hint of passion in Stewart’s voice that I have never heard before. I didn’t even know Kristen Stewart could raise her voice loud enough to yell. It’s like a tiny step forward and a huge leap back, all at the same time.

Anyway, the dwarves provide their whole one function in this movie by sneaking in and helping Snow’s army invade. Snow and Ravenna fight each other, and Snow kills her by stabbing her in the side, just like she was taught. (She can do it, cause she’s the fairest of them all, see. Ostensibly, they mean internal beauty as well as external, but that message would have been a lot clearer if they had gotten an ugly girl to play Snow White.)

Snow takes over the kingdom — which is now all nice and pretty again, thanks to her Magical Pureness — and there’s a hint of a sequel, in that she doesn’t choose Will OR the Huntsman to be her King just yet. (Even though it’s pretty clear it’ll be the Huntsman, as he’s a) Chris Hemsworth, b) a title character, and c) the guy whose Magic Lips brought Snow White back to life.)

And that’s about the end of that nonsense.

SUMMARY:

Very pretty visuals. Sucky everything else.

MVP:

Um . . . whoever did the special effects. I refuse to credit anyone else.

TENTATIVE GRADE:

C-

MORAL:

Inner beauty is more important than outer beauty. Even though there’s never anyone in fairy tales who has inner beauty without outer beauty.

Also, Snow White is not life, like whichever dwarf says. She is clearly Death, and if you see her, run away. Run away before you’re drowned or burned or shot till you die from it.

Also, don’t tell a person you’re lying to them before you get what you want from them. I mean, honestly. That’s just dumb.

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4 Responses to “You Can’t Have My Heart.”

  1. Shelley says:

    yup totally agree. A vehicle for the view. Charlize actually seemed inhibited to me, upstaged by a younger , and therefore by Hollywood standards, more beautiful and talented female. Irony, love it…

  2. Claire says:

    In terms of reimagining fairy tales, the tv show Once Upon a Time is pretty good. Can’t think of any movies, though.

  3. Dave Nielsen says:

    Inner beauty is more important than outer beauty. Even though there’s never anyone in fairy tales who has inner beauty without outer beauty.

    The real moral of Snow White must be that physical beauty is what matters but that it’s a curse because the ugly will hate you (as the Queen hates and tries to kill Snow White) but they’ll also want to do things for you (the Dwarfs wouldn’t probably have helped her if she’d been homely). In other words, a useful story for children to tell them how the world really works. Movies that talk about inner beauty and where fugly guys score beautiful women have done all kinds of harm. 🙂

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