Contents ©2012 Mike Pascale. Visuals copyright and trademark their respective owners.
I’m not a fairy tale kind of guy, but I do like cool twists on familiar things. Readers here know both my wife and I dug the MIRROR MIRROR version of the old Snow White story a couple months ago (read the full review here). This weekend we saw the second take, SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN (starring TWILIGHT’s Kristen Stewart and THOR’s Chris Hemsworth), and liked it very much.
But anyone who compares the two is either crazy or ignorant. They’re totally different films. (Not that such reason would for a second deter any of the critics, reviewers and bloggers, of course. I typed “Mirror Mirror Huntsman” into a Web search and saw a plethora of “vs.” headlines touting which one is better. Never underestimate the absurdity or stupidity of the Internet.)
Comparing HUNTSMAN to MIRROR is like comparing THE KILLING JOKE’s Batgirl with the one in DETECTIVE #371. Or comparing AVENGERS DISASSEMBLED #1 with AVENGERS #1. Or comparing Bernie Wrightson’s FRANKENSTEIN with Bill Elder’s “Frank N. Stein”. Or—you get the idea. We’re talking drama played straight compared with whimsy played for fun.
Once again, Stewart plays a tortured youth full of quiet angst (though this time the torture is more physical, having been locked in a darkened tower for eight years).
And once again, we the audience are treated to several uncomfortably long shots of her uncomfortably-looking face waiting for dialog that never comes. (Even when she’s supposed to be happy, it takes half a minute to crack half a smile). Teens and tweens will no doubt swoon and swell with admiration and pathos. The grown-ups will roll their eyes.
But overall she does a fine job as the “reluctant warrior” Snow White, a lot different in armor than the dainty-but-feisty, furry-browed Snow in MIRROR. Chris Hemsworth is a great macho-but-damaged-inside Huntsman, a part missing completely from MIRROR. (Instead, Snow was hunted by the Prince, played over-the-top by Armie Hammer.) He does another convincing hero play, more humble, ragged and down-to-earth than as Thor, but with the same inner nobility. He also proves his grasp of accents, having abandoned the classical British of the Thunder God for a more Irish take here (not easy considering he’s Austrailian!)
The seven dwarfs were vastly different as well. MIRROR used genuine “dwarves”, aka little people actors that pulled off great performances as likable thieves. But the makers of HUNTSMAN apparently think little people aren’t as good at acting as “normal” size people, or that audiences wouldn’t take them as seriously. Why? They used average-sized actors like Bob Hoskins (remember ROGER RABBIT?), Nick Frost (Simon Pegg’s buddy in HOT FUZZ, PAUL, etcetera), Ian McShane (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN), Ray Winstone (HUGO) and Tobey Jones (CAPTAIN AMERICA) and put their heads on smaller bodies! Their acting was fine, but the full-body shots were a bit odd (some having tiny-but-average-looking hands in some shots, unlike dwarves).That decision I don’t get. But most casting worked well.
For instance, Charlize Theron makes the most wicked Wicked Queen I’ve seen in movie history. (Julia Roberts was evil-but-intentionally funny.) The CG is beautifully done. Some of the effects and creatures were breath-taking (my favorite was the troll–coolest one ever.) The fact that there were no less than seven storyboard artists and as many or more concept artists says it all.
Whether you’re an artist or just into visual spectacle and creativity, you’ll enjoy the costumes. Those in both films are Oscar-worthy. However, given the Academy’s bias against all things hilarious and fun, look for HUNTSMAN to gain the nod and MIRROR to get the snub.
Minor quibbles here and there, and I think it’s a bit longer than it should be, but definitely a nice couple hours of entertainment and visual eminence that to me was worth $7.50. Even better, no 3-D version as far as I know, thankfully! Didn’t need it.
Now that I’ve just compared both films, once you see them, you’ll realize there’s no reason to.
P.S.: If you’d like an impressive-looking (strong and powerful, dainty and sweet, erotic and sexy, comic and hilarious, whatever) version of Snow White, the Evil Queen, the Huntsman or any other character, I’m happy to oblige. How about YOU or your friend or family member as one of the characters? I’m there. Just ask Craig here!