Sometimes it’s hard to move past a plot conceit, especially when it’s one borrowed from SyFy movies of the week. Such is Snow White and the Huntsman, a fantasy action extravaganza that weirdly married the basic fairy tale narrative of Snow White to films like Lord of the Rings, blending romance with action and magic. While the results are often visually stunning, the narrative leaves much to be desired.
For those living under a rock, the film revolves around an always heaving-breathing Snow White (Twilight-alum Kristen Stewart) who’s living under the hilariously overwrought villainous eye of Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron, doing her best to camp-up the film). Snow White makes a dashing escape and finds herself in a forest filled with trolls, dwarves and other woodland creatures. Ravenna then hires Thor, err, an eternally moist and dirty huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to catch her. Meanwhile, the dashing William (Sam Claflin) infiltrates Ravenna’s army in an attempt to locate and protect Snow White. But it’s not long before the trio teams up and attempts to take the evil Queen down.
Following along the path of movies and books like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and SyFy movies like Neverland, Tin Man, and also Alice, Snow White and the Huntsman is a not-so-prestigious member of a new genre of film – the mashup. And while there’s certain to be a few solid films in this genre over the next decade or so, the idea of blending old brands with hot trends is already starting to grow a bit thin and overplayed.
Admittedly, though, Snow White and the Huntsman is one of the better mashup films to come around, and thanks to some great visual effects and slick action, the film is likely to find an audience of those who absolutely adore it. But there’s just something off about the whole experience.
For example, Snow White is seen communicating with trolls and other woodland creatures, just as she always does in the Snow White fairy tale. But in the climatic siege of Queen Ravenna’s castle, it’s a battle of man vs. man, with Snow White dressed in armor ready for battle. Why not also have her storm Ravenna’s castle using those trolls she talks to? Sounds far more visually epic than just men battling other men. We’ve seen that before. In fact, the whole final act plays a lot like one of Universal’s Mummy films.
Now, I don’t mean to deter audiences from seeing Snow White and the Huntsman. It’s got some interesting ideas, and it does, on occasion, dare to be a little different than most summer flicks. But its insistence to conform to molds it simply shouldn’t fit is sometimes irritating, leading to an uneven experience that’s sure to please some, but leave others less than satisfied. As a Saturday afternoon distraction, though, Snow White and the Huntsman is a lively good time.
Snow White and the Huntsman receives a lavish two-disc Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy/UltraViolet combo pack, stocked with a terrific presentation and loads of extras. The film is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen, encoded in 1080p/AVC and mixed in 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.
The transfer is positively striking, even if the film has the nasty habit of wallowing in a lifeless, and frankly, morose palette. The encode is reference grade, with not a single blemish in sight. The print is spotless, too. And no major distortions were noted.
The film’s immersive 7.1 audio track is equally reference quality, with aggressive, atmospheric surrounds adding texture to nearly every single scene. Dialogue is clean and crackle-free, and bass is moody and room-shaking without overbearing the mix. As with most Universal new releases, this is a stunning, reference presentation.
Extras include a wealth of behind-the-scenes material as well as several innovative, interactive BD-exclusive goodies. For starters, there are two cuts of the film on the disc – the original 128-minute theatrical cut, and the all-new 132-minute extended cut. Fans will definitely want to check out the longer version of the film. While nothing completely earth-shattering is added, the extended cut does give a little more weight to the characters and story. There’s also a thoughtful commentary featuring director Rupert Sanders, effects supervisor Cedric Nicolas-Troyan and co-editor Neil Smith. It’s a bit on the technical side, but fascinating and engaging nonetheless.
Up next are a trio of interactive goodies, including Universal’s standard U-Control picture-in-picture feature, a Second Screen App and an interactive set tour panoramic feature. All three extras vary in quality. The U-Control feature is pretty informative, but I prefer the more integrated Maximum Movie Mode-type experience found on Universal’s recent new release, Battleship (review here).
Other extras include seven featurettes which, when combined, form a pretty decent hour-long documentary. You’ll get a look at visual effects, characters and the reimagined story. While certainly not as thorough as some documentaries out there, the featurettes deliver a solid overview of the whole production, and perfectly complement the other interactive goodies, not to mention the commentary.
Snow White and the Huntsman might not be a masterpiece, but it’s an enjoyable film at times. The Blu-ray is simply outstanding, with a great presentation and hours of extras well worth perusing. If you loved the film, by all means, buy this disc. Even for newcomers, Snow White and the Huntsman comes highly recommended.
Source : feeds[dot]ign[dot]com