Dante’s Peak vs Volcano. Armageddon vs Deep Impact. Madagascar vs The Wild. Battle: Los Angeles vs Skyline. Hollywood has a history with releasing very similar movies very close to each other. Most of these movies have long been forgotten (except for Madagascar, which has its second, Noah Baumbach written sequel coming out soon, and Armageddon, which is in the Criterion Collection), but for a little while, it’s fun to see these movies duke it out at the box office and with the critics. In 2012, a new pair of movies revived the Thunderdome of mediocre films: Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman, the first being an irreverent and slapsticky mess starring Julia Roberts, and the other, a dark war drama starring Kristen Stewart.
SWATH opens on bleak winter landscape with an ominous ‘ONCE UPON A TIME’ that catches the audience up to the Snow White tale, just in case anyone in the audience just escaped out of the cave they were being held in and has no idea what the ubiquitous tale is about. Strangely in a film with a crawling runtime, it runs through the opening exposition in about 2 minutes. Almost all other renditions of this story throw the viewer into the story at Snow White’s adolescence. Showing the growing relationship between Snow and Ravenna would have given the characters more depths than simply “pretty” and “jealous”.
The plot is almost the exact same as the classic Disney cartoon, but all of the magic and charm is sucked out, mostly because of its way overlong running time. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves told the exact same story in 82 minutes, while Snow White and the Huntsman chugs at a grueling 127 minutes. All with almost no music and no ambient noises. Most of the film plays out like a dentist’s waiting room lined with bad paintings from DeviantArt. The color scheme of browns, blacks, and greys gets very old, very quick, and only hurts in a movie so filled with monotony in all of the other aspects.
Speaking of monotony, what will probably hurt the box office the most of this film is the pure unlikeability of its star, Kristen Stewart. While she’s known for playing the dour and unrelatable Bella Swan in the dour and unlikeable Twilight film franchise, she’s had some great turns in The Runaways, Adventureland, and Into the Wild. She plays Snow White exactly like the Snow White in this version should be played: scarred and pissed off. I went to the press screening of this movie, and even though I had a plus one who could attend, I ended up seeing SWATH alone because no one wanted to see Kristen Stewart. Her performance is great; it’s the others' that really make this film collapse. Charlize Theron brings no subtlety to her role, only ‘yelling’ and 'not yelling'. Chris Hemsworth merely exists as a placeholder with a strange Australian/Irish accent.
Snow White and the Huntsman is the worst kind of bad movie: it’s boring. That’s why bad movies like The Room are as famous as excellent films of the same time. It fails on all levels, and is a spectacle to watch in awe. This movie will most likely be forgotten in six months, just to end up as a spot on each of the actors IMDB page, a slot in the Netflix Instant Queue that never gets watched. Something that will be playing in the background while you wash the dishes. A film that merely exists.
Dylan Garsee is a freelance writer/bingo enthusiast currently living in Austin, TX. He is studying sociology, and when he's not winning trivia nights at pork-themed restaurants, writing a collection of essays on the gay perspective in geek culture. An avid record collector, Dylan can mostly be seen at Waterloo Records, holding that one God Speed You! Black Emperor record he can't afford and crying. You can follow him on twitter @garseed.