This was a pretty good movie with lots of cool things in it but it left me disappointed because it was so close to being a great movie. It’s hard to pin down exactly what needed to be done to push it over. Lots of little things rather than any one big thing. I feel like Snow White and the Hunstman was trying to be Lord of the Rings, an epic instead of a fairytale. But I’d still watch it again, if only for the idea fodder.
1—The Evil Queen is A Large Ham
This is not actually a complaint. I like over the top villains. They’re just so much fun. And the special effects are set to match—beautiful, all of them. From the fractal knights to Ravenna turning into a flock of crows and then them all crashing to the floor in this big puddle of tar she has to pull herself out of. And don’t get me started on the Queen’s costumes. Bird skulls have never looked so fashionable.
The Evil Queen also receives more character development that she usually does. Besides an actual name (yes, I the Disney version’s Queen is named Grimhilde but it’s not ever mentioned in the movie so it doesn’t count here), the first scene is Ravenna’s mother putting a spell on her daughter—her beauty is literally the source of her power now—just before she’s dragged off to be a warlord’s child bride. You can tell how she got the way she is.
I would like to more about the Mysterious Bond(TM) she feels with Snow White though.
2—The Tribe of Scarred Women
Talk about cutting your nose to spite your face—or rather, to spite the woman who wants to suck the life out of you. This was actually really cool, to see people adapting to a society where being beautiful gets you dead. It’s a completely logical and thought out consequence—not something you get a lot of in movies—of Ravenna’s kidnapping beautiful young women.
I really loved the sense that there was a community to explore there, a whole subculture grown and growing. These women give off a steadfast strength, they’re survivors. I’d love to see a story just about that little part of that world, at the edge of a swamp—a fittingly liminal place for this group living on the margins.
I know it’s supposed to be one of those things you just go with but I do not buy that a girl who’s lived the last decade or so of her life in one little room would be that athletic. Nor do I buy the scene where she screams a troll into submission. I get (after it was explained to me) that they’re trying to show the subtle power of the Pure Princess in contrast to the overt power of the Evil Queen, but I just wanted to be shown a little more, either before the event or after. Just like I wanted to be shown, not told, a little more about the dwarves and their relationship and loyalty to the old king, which they transfer whole and unquestioning to his naive and inexperienced daughter.
4—I Killed Your Wife
What? When? The Queen’s brother killing the huntsman’s wife was never shown or even hinted at. Where the fuck did this come from? Are you just trying to make the guy—who’s already trying to kill you—want you dead more? Seriously, what the fuck?
This is one of my pet peeves, tropes thrown in “because”. Because you have to “make it personal” would be my guess. But because there was no build up to it, the statement just seems randomly thrown in, pointless. If there were scenes of if left on the cutting room floor then why couldn’t that statement go with them? It was the middle of a fight scene, it wouldn’t be hard to edit it out. If it’s just to show a reason for the Huntsman angrily lunging at Prince Lughead, I repeat—the Huntsman is already trying to kill him.
So what was otherwise an engaging fight becomes a “what, wait” moment that took me out of the movie and, as it was pretty damn near the end, left me out.
Where do I even start? With the bare glimpse of the relationship between Ravenna and Snow, which I’d love to see just five more minutes of? Or with the grand forest god that shows up out of nowhere, with no foreshadowing or legend mentioned and then disappears into butterflies, never to be seen again? And where the fuck did that giant golden mirror come from? That thing is creepy as fuck and I’d love to know its story. Putting it down to Ravenna being insane and hallucinating feels like a cheat, though it didn’t have to be if that part of the story had, again, received just five more minutes—or even two. Whatever the deal with the mirror—and in a land of magic I don’t buy simple crazy as the answer, not when I can get magic and crazy—I want to know it, or at least have a glimpse.
Instead the movie spent its time on grand scenery which, while pretty, didn’t add anything to the story. My friend’s cousin said they were trying to be Lord of the Rings and failing, and I agree. If we’d been shown more of the world—of the magic, the people—instead of the meaningless backdrop…
These missed opportunities were ultimately the tragedy in this movie. And that’s why Snow White and the Huntsman was so disappointing, not because the movie’s bad but because it was so close to being great and you can see how close it got…and then just didn’t get there.