Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thoughts on Snow White and the Huntsman or How Peter Jackson's LOTRs has spoiled me for all other films

I was really excited for this rendition of Snow White. I really was. And boy, was I disappointed. And it might be Peter Jackson's fault.

No, Peter Jackson didn't work on Snow White and the Huntsman. More's the pity. But because of Peter Jackson, I now expect films of high fantasy to be visually gorgeous and knit together with great sense. Yes, LOTR was written by Tolkien, not Jackson and his creative crew. But the script was rewritten by Jackson and his creative crew. They cut and reorganized. They said hey, it makes no sense for the climax of the first story arc to be in second story. So they change it. And so on.

Snow White and the Hunstman did have some cool visual effects. Like when ... whenever Charlize Theron had a scene.

The first problem with this film is casting Charlize Theron as a character whose main crisis is that her rival is more beautiful than she is. Who -- who? -- in Hollywood do you possibly cast to play that part? Kristen Stewart, who was cast to play that part, isn't an ugly girl, but she, like most American women, can't outshine Charlize Theron, even with movie magic. Not by anyone's standard. Remedy? Flash back to the now-dead old Queen telling young Snow White that she's beautiful on the inside. Ooooh. Inner beauty. Got it. Doesn't make much sense given the whole mirror trope, but we'll role with it.

The second problem is how we connect to the main characters. The Queen was creepy. Great. Goosebumps: Check. The huntsman was rugged but troubled. Deadly, with a devastating past. We can totally empathize with him. (It wasn't until I went to write this post that I realized he was played by Chris Hemsworth -- you know, Thor.) Snow White? It was impossible to care about her or root for her success.

I should preface all my following statements with the fact that this was the first movie I'd ever seen Kristen Stewart in. I'd not watched Twilight at the time and I have no personal feelings about her assorted romantic dealings which headline the tabloids. But damn, did her performance ruin this film.

Every time she was on screen she made me remember that I was watching a movie. I couldn't ever get into it because I spent all my time wondering why the hell is she doing that?

The very first scene she's in, she crawls across a stone floor to a meager flame in a fireplace. It isn't the unconscious crawling of a normal adult -- or the scuttling of one who's supposedly been locked in a tower since she was prepubescent -- it was sexy slinking. No. Sexy is the wrong word. Sexy has too great of a positive connotation. Halle Berry is sexy when she shows up on the red carpet. Sexy and classy. This slinking wasn't sexy, it was erotic. Done to entice. Done for the purpose of carnal notice. And this is how the actress moves throughout the film: like she's an adult filmstar on vay-ca.

Since someone will likely bring it up in the comments, I might as well say that generally accepted gossip was that she and the film's director were having a sexual relationship at the time the film was being shot.

Add to this turnoff the fact that she appears physically unable to close her mouth for the entire run time.

Close your damn mouth! You're a princess for crying out loud!

And top it off, the makeup crew rimmed her eyes red. Super red lids, pale face, can't remember to close her mouth, moving like she's -- oh, let's just face it: she comes across like a strung out crack whore.

There, I said it.

And don't even get me started on that unmoving "rally the troops" speech that came completely out of left field. If I was a farmer who'd just been given a sword and shield, I think those little nuggets of widsom would make me want to desert.

No, I can't lay this perfect storm of things-that-cause-my-apathy-toward-the-supposed-heroine at the feet of the actress. Basically, I lay it at Peter Jackson's feet. He's ruined me. He's made me expect that awesome fantasy films will be AWESOME, from casting, to directing the actors, to the special effects, to the detailed closeups, to the dialog in the script, to makeup and art direction, to whomever's job it is to remind people that their mouths should be closed when not speaking.

[If you want more discussion of things fairy-tale-related, check out World Weaver Press's Fairy Tale Festival running April 15 - May 6, 2013.]

Highly Recommended