I recall wanting to see this film on the big screen, but was stupidly cowed by lukewarm critical reception. Finally watched it with Zac last night, and it’s pretty fuckin’ badass on several levels.
Immediately noticeable: it’s beautiful. Gorgeous photography and VFX*, and seamless compositing thereof, at least from what I can tell on a 27″ screen. DP definitely borrowed some shots and inspiration from LOTR, but who wouldn’t for something like this?
Also, it’s a female-empowered telling, and a more nuanced iteration in general. It scrambles gender stereotypes— just enough to undermine the moral structure in which the ‘evil’ female has power, while the ‘good’ female is necessarily helpless. While Ms White does require help (as does the evil queen), she has her own inherent strength and power. (Thanks!)
(Spoiler alert from here on—)
There’s a great line during a scene in which she’s leading the Duke’s army and the Huntsman says to her, “You look good in mail.” While on the surface this is in regards to her armor, the subtext speaks to the ‘masculine’ role she’s taken on (as Zac pointed out, and I agree)—‘You look good in male’ . By the way, bitch don’t cook or clean for the dwarves in this telling. They, however, are willing to slog through the sewer to help her right what was wronged, once it becomes clear that she is the only one who can undo the wicked queen’s magic.
So, our hero: a wronged princess bent on justice / revenge (who happens to be covered in mud for most of the film, and in pants). Hero’s assistant: a drunken huntsman with a (reluctant) heart of gold. (See what they did there?) And of course it is he, and not the Duke’s son— to whom she was essentially betrothed at birth— whose smooch unravels the queen’s spell. So they’ve killed that whole arranged marriage bit as well. In fact, one may assume they’ve left marriage out of it altogether, as the crown-restored princess stands alone before her people at the end (very Q.E.1), having restored the sovereignty and surrounding countryside to its ‘natural’ order. (Though there is ostensibly a sequel in the works, so we’ll see.)
In short, really fun to watch; better than expected.
*(with the exception of the rather cheesy mirror which is, thankfully, a minor character)