16 June 2012

Seen: Snow White and the Huntsman

When you're a stay-at-home-mom to a toddler, the prospect of a night at the movies with your girlfriends is enough to get you through the longest of days. The moment you wake up, you think, "I'm going to the movies tonight!" When he strategically chucks his spaghetti lunch on the floor (walls, kitchen, or you), you think, "I'm going to the movies in seven hours!" When 5:45 rolls around and you find yourself counting the minutes (seconds) until relief comes in the form of whoever will watch your Gremlin/Troll/Toad/Whatever-your-child-turns-into-at-the-end-of-the-day, you think, "I'm going to the movies in one hour!" The most you can hope for is that the movie you've agreed to see with your similarly-situated friends is going to be amazing. The least you can hope for is sitting quietly in the dark for two hours. So it's already a winning situation. 

When we decided to see Snow White & the Huntsman we figured that, at the very least, we would get to see Chris Hemsworth flex his particular brand of awesome and behold Charlize Theron's outrageous costumes. The movie poster kind of sets us up for just that: see how The Huntsman looks totally kickass wielding that axe, while the Evil Queen's collar explodes into crows. What about Snow White? If you've seen Kristen Stewart in anything other than Twilight, you know that she actually can act. In this ad, however, she almost seems to be a non-character. She has a certain reluctance about her (a skill she honed during the press tours for her tween-driven franchise that she still seems sort of uncomfortable with); I was prepared to have to tolerate her (similar to the feeling I had about Scarlett Johansson in The Avengers) but not particularly care for her. And, while I can't say that I completely understand what that white horse-deer creature saw in her, I was pleasantly surprised by her performance.
At least the pale skin can be attributed to
being locked in a tower, rather than being undead.
And no sparkles.
In other news of random casting, I think the biggest disappointment was William. Not because I hated the actor. But the character was such a throw-away. Sure, it seems like he is supposed to fill the traditional role of "Prince Charming." He's got the pedigree to back it up. But there is very little that is actually charming about him. 
Hollywood's newest obsession?
The bow-and-arrow.
And the medieval mullet.
It seems like everyone is in love with Snow White - something with which anyone who has seen any version of the story is familiar. I appreciated the twist on the Evil Queen, whose sociopathic desire to stay young and beautiful leads her to consume the young beauty out of everyone. Charlize Theron's over-the-top  Ravenna offered something that previous Evil Queens have lacked - being actually crazy. Like, delusional. But at least she looked amazing while being completely bat-shit crazy.
You don't bathe in a mixture that is equal parts
porcelain, white-out and unicorn tears? More for me.
One of the best parts of the movie was the co-headlining Huntsman. And not just because Chris Hemsworth managed to balance the almost-palpable booze-soaked-grief with the ability to bring some much-needed levity to an otherwise serious and dramatic movie. Without him (and the dwarves), the movie seemed to take itself too seriously. 
Of all the people Snow White could have hunting her,
this seems like a pretty good option.
Aside from the characters themselves (and the creepy and seemingly Targaryen-inspired sibling relationship), the movie itself was pretty entertaining. Kristen Stewart's reluctant heroine was almost believable - but where did she learn to wield a sword and ride a horse bareback while she was locked in a tower for twelve years? Is riding a horse like riding a bike? The outcome of her resurrection (I don't want to completely spoil it, but you already knew that she was going to live because I'm assuming you've seen/read at least one version of the story) was actually satisfying. I appreciated that she ran headlong into her situation once she was literally given a second chance at life. I hope that in the sequel they don't try to turn the movie into another Twilight-triangle. We've been there and done that with K-Stew, and that's where she flounders. I felt like that who-will-she-choose moment at the end was one of the most forced moments of the movie, because it was pretty clear who she wanted to be with, and why he was the right choice for her (spoiler alert: the title of the movie isn't Snow White & Her Long-Lost Childhood Friend Who Is Now An Archer). 

Ultimately, I found the movie completely watchable. I didn't even want to get up to go to the bathroom, because I was worried I'd miss something. And, I would gladly see it again.  For this, if nothing else:
After all, the most reliable way to grade a movie is to decide if you would see it again, and what you would be willing to pay to see it at all. There are some movies that should be relegated to the $2 theater, and others that might get a matinee for $6 or $7. But I'd see this movie again in the evening - at $12, that's saying something. 

Snow White & the Huntsman wasn't necessarily the best movie of the summer (that would, so far, be The Avengers. Your move, Dark Knight Rises). But it was a pretty close second. And it was one of the better princess movies I can remember seeing in recent years. Your move, Brave.