On Blu-Ray: Snow White and the Huntsman
Directed by Rupert Sanders
Starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron
Fairy tales are suddenly all the rage starting as far back as the ill-fated Grimm’s Fairly Tales and Red Riding Hood all the way to the current television shows Once Upon a Time and Grimm. For some reason everyone is all about the classics. Of course Alice in Wonderland has been done over and over and the sequel to The Wizard of Oz is on the way so there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.
Snow White and the Huntsman is one of two films based on the classic Snow White story that hit theaters last spring. The other was the Julia Roberts starring in Mirror, Mirror. Both of these films have the common element of attempting to bring more depth to the wicked queen character. Snow White and the Huntsman seems like it should be one of those magical movies that just hits all the right notes. It’s an updating of the classic fairy tale and it stars Kristen Stewart, the hot young actress of the moment and Chris Hemsworth, the Mighty Thor. This movie should have brought young girls to the theaters in droves. The film actually bombed domestically only making $155 million but when you add in the foreign take of nearly $239 million the film becomes profitable. So much so that a sequel appears to be on the horizon. The big problem is all of the pieces are here for something great but it just never is.
Kristen Stewart is in all reality a fairly poor actress. She’s loved by young girls for reasons unbeknownst to me. Maybe I’m not supposed to understand because I’m most definitely not a young girl and never was that. This film is fairly poorly written but she takes weak dialog and makes it multiple times worse with wooden delivery and an odd accent. There’s one particular patriotic speech delivered by her in the last act of the film that is truly laughable. It’s not all her though, the script just didn’t end up being that good. The goals the story hoped to reach were interesting but it never reaches them.
Charlize Theron is the star of this film hands down. She chews the scenery as the evil Queen like nobody’s business. Her story is a great deal darker than you might expect for a film so precisely targeted at young girls. She’s truly evil but Theron’s skills as an actress make her vulnerable and sad too. She does have some great scenes. The problem is that you’ve seen them all in the television commercials. That’s not speaking poorly of the marketing so much as it defines how few and far between those scenes are in the film. Chris Hemsworth is a good enough actor here but he just doesn’t have much depth or any character layers to make him memorable. Perhaps the most painful scenes in the film are those with the dwarfs. They again are all great actors but this segment of the film feels bloated and poorly plotted.
Unfortunately Snow White and the Huntsman just isn’t a good movie. There are some cool set pieces, great costuming, and a few nice moments but none of this adds up to a good movie. There are so many poorly and oddly executed moments in this film. There’s one sequence where the dwarfs are all talking around a camp fire and the film constantly cuts back and forth between them and Snow White. Snow never says anything mind you, we just see her face and the expression is always the same. In fact I’m not convinced the editor didn’t just cut in the same shot over and over again. This could be a testament to a first time director, a poor script, or a really bad actor in Stewart. I actually think they all apply.
This 1080p presentation is gorgeous. Black levels are deep and rich and the muted color pallet pops when some color does come into play. Contrast is solid and detail levels, when the blu-ray is at its best,it is stunning. There are many instances of softness throughout the presentation though. Also there are some scenes where the blacks do get a little gray and flat. Overall the film is solidly rendered on the blu-ray but its inconsistency keeps it from being a perfect score. The DVD is comparable as an SD version of the film too with good quality throughout most of the film but the same issues that are on the blu-ray do crop up.
The DTS Master audio offers up an exciting and immersive mix for this action packed film. When the action does kick in it surrounds the viewer and often the sub-woofer can kick the walls. Throughout the film dialogue is crisp and clear, even Stewart’s mumbly poor attempt at a British accent is intelligible making this release worthy of a solid score before all of the other sonic goodness.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
This version of the film is provided on two discs, a DVD and a blu-ray with an Ultra Violet digital copy available to download via a code provided on a flyer inside the case. This may be the way Sony forces people to give Ultra Violet a go. They are literally making it the only digital option packed in with the disc version of the film. The art on the cover and holo-foil slipcover is a bit basic but acceptable.
Snow White and the Huntsman is presented as an extended cut but the additional footage doesn’t add a lot other than a little more action to the film. There’s a bevy of very marketing heavy featurettes that do manage to offer a little history on how this film came to be. There are actor profiles for the main cast, visual and practical FX featurettes, and a group of panoramic shots of sets that you can slide through.
Universal literally threw the kitchen sink of interactive features at this release with U Control, pocketBLU, My Scenes, News Ticker, D-Box, and second screen. Most of these features offer some behind the scenes information and footage for your perusal as you watch the film. Many of these features are exclusive to blu-ray.
There’s a feature audio commentary with the director one of the editors and the visual FX supervisor. This commentary is as you might expect highly technical with more focus on the execution of the look of the film rather than the story. The information is great but it seems like there should have been another commentary that focused on the overall creative process and the reasons the story became what it is in the film.
While there’s nothing here innovative in the way of bonus features and often the featurettes feel a little too much like marketing videos there’s still a lot of information here for fans of the film.
The writers and the director tried to fashion a film with feminist underpinnings and craft a modern heroic version of the classic Brother’s Grimm character. The take on the story is a great one but the outcome of the film isn’t great, not even close. You might try to argue that this film wasn’t made for me, that it was made for a young female audience. While that may be the case I can tell, and hopefully so they can tell too, a bad movie when they see it.
Overall (Not an Average) 5/10
The Movie 3/10
The Video 8.5/10
The Audio 9/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 8/10
Overall (Not an Average) 5/10