Friday, 6 July 2012

Snow White And The Huntsman

...was arguably the worst piece of film I have ever seen, bar none. I'm talking about sheer incompetence on the director's part, on the writer's part, and on the actors' parts. It managed to stretch over more than two hours while delivering nothing in the way of pace - seriously, the setup was a few minutes of narrated exposition and the plot stopped before anything like an actual ending. Excellent actors like Charlize Theron were reduced to cheesy video game villain territory: screaming an unconvincing 'You cannot defeat me!' while literally on fire. Kristen Stewart was given barely any lines at all, preferring to stare vacantly at the other characters and scenery.

Also, I suspect that Kristen Stewart is contractually obligated to have two competing love interests in every movie she's in: one rebellious bad boy, one baby-faced good guy. Chris Hemsworth was entertaining, at least, and a great deal more convincing than any of the other actors. 

Let's not forget the dwarves! The dwarves felt like they were shoehorned in at the last moment, probably because they were. They fell on the good-magic end of the Snow White and the Huntsman world, with Rowena's mirror magic on the other end. The mirror magic was kind of cool in a special-effects way, but it committed the cardinal sin of fantasy magic systems: inconsistency. Vagueness is fine - we don't know the nature or origin of the Mirror itself, or of the blood-magic thing - but when a rule is explicitly stated and then immediately broken, with no explanation, the whole thing falls through. We can't have Rowena claiming that her powers don't work in the dark forest and then, in the very next scene, see her brother exercise those very same powers in the forest with no problem at all. It's unconvincing, and worse, it's lazy.

These are minor criticisms, though, and pale into insignificance before the general badness of each line and of each line's delivery. My theory is that the director was shooting for a cartoonish, exaggerated fairy-tale mood, and succeeded. Like a fairy tale, we are told, not shown the major plot elements. Everything is black and white, everything is transparent. On the other hand, the director was also shooting for a gritty, realistic mood. People die. The film is uniformly serious. These two things (cartoon fantasy and gritty realism) do not work well together! Let me repeat: cartoon fantasy and gritty realism do not work well together. Or not, at least, when the film takes itself as seriously as this.

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