I am one of those girls that are absolutely obsessed with fairy tales. I loved Disney as a child and as an adult had the opportunity during grad school to take a grad class on the classic fairy tales. So, of course, as this new wave of movies, music, and TV. shows has adapted so many of my favorite fairy tales, I am elated! When Lady Gaga wrote “Monster”, I immediately thought- “Little Red Riding Hood”- My mind is tuned into all things fairy tale.
So with “Once upon a Time” on my TiVo, I am still excited when I can see movies that are based on film. My poor husband has been dragged to “Red Riding Hood”, “Beastly”, Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland”, “Mirror Mirror” and most recently, “Snow White and the Huntsman.” On opening day, my husband, and I, along with 6 friends/family members went to the theatre. After seeing “Mirror Mirror”, I was looking forward to something not as bubble gum and shiny that would be more adult based. What I wasn’t expecting was how truly bizarre the film would be.
Let’s start with my general reaction to the film- It is the closest to the Grimm’s brothers version of the fairy tale. It starts with the “black as a raven, white as snow, red as blood” imagery that is associated with Snow White. Ravenna (the evil queen) has the terrible characteristics seen in the Grimm’s Brothers’ tale: her wish to eat organs of living things and her envy. However, the directors took huge liberty in the film. The forest that Snow White goes to is part Alice and Wonderland after she took the “magic pill” and part “Lord of the Rings”. With fairies that look extremely similar to Gollum, mushrooms with eyeballs, and a forest that hides terrible and beautiful things, I was instantly transported into the world that Tolkien wrote for us- but without Frodo or Bilbo. I came to watch Snow White. I want Snow White to be the focus of the tale so that I actually care for her. Instead, I am wondering where the magic ring is and when the white rabbit will tell me “I’m late for a very important date”.
Casting: Oh boy- Where to even start….
First of all, let’s start with the positive.
The Huntsman: Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman is spot on. The “Thor” and “Avengers” alum is smoking hot with his accent and good looks. The casting directors knew what they were doing in attracting their female audience by casting him. He did a great job playing a drunk and was a man that I generally believed would fight for Snow White.
Ravenna: I had my reservations about Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen but she was spot on evil and crazy. Her beauty is undeniable which is needed to have a true evil queen in the Snow White tale. She has the appearance, gestures and look in her eye that makes the audience believe she is really that awful woman we love to hate. I have nothing bad to say about Charlize herself, but the character of Ravenna was a strange take on the classic villain.
Things I didn’t like:
Warning- Spoiler– It’s already implied by her name that she is like a raven- it’s unnecessary to have her change into a Raven as well. Secondly, she’s completely psychotic in the film as she doesn’t really have a magic mirror but it is shown, through another character, that she is only talking to herself when she believes she is talking to the mirror. On one hand, I see that the filmmakers believe that Ravenna must be crazy to be sucking the life out of maidens in the village, but really, we are supposed to believe that there are eyeball mushrooms in the forest, deer that can turn into doves, Ravenna herself can walk through fire, suck the beauty and age out of maidens and turn into ravens but we aren’t gullible enough to believe that she really has a magic mirror? Please- it’s called magic realism. You tell us there’s a magic mirror- we believe it. There’s no reason to have to take this out.
Snow White: This pains me to say, because I want to like Kristen Stewart… I really do. I love her LOOK. She is pale, with the dark hair and the red lips but she is nowhere near the Snow White that I would cheer for. She spends the majority of the novel in the tower or running around the forest with the Huntsman as her protector and savior. She is smart enough to break out of the tower but other than that move, and the one at the end *I wont spoil it for those who have not watched yet…, she is nothing but a passive woman being led around by her hot, protective male. Frankly, it was Bella being led around by Edward in the forest all over again…
The Ending: (Spoiler Warning) I wanted to like this movie- I really did. I wanted to LOVE it but I just didn’t. I have no faith that Snow White will make a good queen. She is really the fatal flaw of the movie. I don’t blame Kristen Stewart for this. I blame the screenwriters. Snow White needs to go one of two ways: Either she is an independent woman who fights her way through the movie OR she is passive and led through the movie. If she is passive, she needs to have a man/king/prince at the end. If she is independent, she can decide to get married or she can stay alone. This Snow White is barely active and yet, we are supposed to believe that she can rule alone. The Huntsman is the one that women are rooting for, not Snow so when there is no resolution to whether they will end up together, it is a disappointing ending to a very strange take on Snow White.
Coming up: This movie would have been a better sell if I would have been prepared for a story based on Ravenna. My fairy tale loving self is not satisfied in this movie and so, I will have to wait for “Maleficent” coming out in 2014. Rumor has it that Angelina Jolie has the role of Maleficent while Elle Fanning is to play Sleeping Beauty. I’ve got high hopes for that one!