In a roundabout way, watching Thor for the first time brought me back to wanting to write this post, chewing out the people who attempted to write a novelization of the movie Snow White and the Huntsman. I had let it recede from my mind, after writing a scathing review on Goodreads, and getting it out of my system. Temporarily. But Chris Hemsworth did such a good job of bringing Thor to life (and Anthony Hopkins is awesome, of course), that I was reminded of his turn as the Huntsman.
I was looking forward to seeing Snow White, not because it was starring Bella Swan, but because it was going to star Charlize Theron as the Queen. Come to think of it, I can’t remember what else I’ve ever seen her in, but I know I’ve always liked her acting, and not just because she looks like a certain cousin of mine. So, when I saw the movie, I thought she did a seriously over-the-top, crazy performance that was fascinating to watch. But I kept wanting to know more about the characters. Why did Ravenna seek revenge? Where did the shadow warriors come from? And that’s not even touching on the questions that came up over the other people.
Not being a big time movie critic or able to fathom certain nuances of acting, I was torn over whether Stewart did a good job of playing Snow White, or if she just looked the part. I was intrigued by the idea of a warrior Snow White, fighting back for her kingdom, but I wanted to know more. And, of course, the age old question… if you have Chris Hemsworth playing the Huntsman, why do you even have a prince in the story? William was lackluster and uninteresting, so you never even think about rooting for him to get the girl.
My favorite scene in the movie (do I have to give a Spoiler Warning, since the movie’s been out this long?) is when Snow White’s apparently dead, and the Huntsman is talking to her, telling her why she reminds him of his wife, and then it’s his kiss that wakes her up. So fittingly, I think. You sit there wondering if she could hear him, or if she missed the whole thing. And then, she hops up and goes and has her spaz attack in front of her people. Ok, not really, but I’m still not sure if it was a good speech or not. They really should’ve been running the subtitles, because after she started screaming “fight for me!”, I lost track of what she was saying, and wondered if the apple was still disagreeing with her.
You may have guessed already that I really did like the movie, but there was so much more that they could’ve done, things they could have explained better. The dwarfs were good fun and the Enchanted Forest amazing, but the story didn’t reveal as much depth as it could have. I’d almost say, as well acted as some parts were, their characters were still somewhat shallow.
This comes to the book, finally. You’ve been wondering, I know. I look a good novelization of a movie, and have read several about the Transformers movies, as well as the Star Wars prequels (and all the Star Wars books, for that matter). The books of the SW prequels are better than the movies, in case you’re interested. So, every time I saw the Snow White and the Huntsman novelization on the store shelf, I was curious, and eventually gave in and bought it.
I don’t know who gave it a 5 star rating on Goodreads, because I have never read such a shoddily written novel. Unlike Graceling (which just got on my nerves), I finished this one, because I kept hoping for more details on one or two of the characters. But I could have written this better, and if the makers of the movie were willing to pay me for it, I’d do it.
This should have been advertised as a junior novelization, except it’s a bit too creepy in spots for a kid to be reading, but then, I wouldn’t want any child I know reading such an awfully written book. To start off with, several times in the book, the author used certain terms to describe something that just made me wonder where they went to school. Remember when she meets the beautiful, white stag in the Enchanted Forest, and they’re having a magical moment together? The author describes this as Snow White reaching out to “pet” the horse. Yeah, it was a horse in the book. Several times, she talks about petting the horse, and it made me wonder if the author grew up next to a petting farm. How about “stroking the snow white mane of the beautiful creature” or “trembling in awe at the idea of touching the shining coat of the noble stallion”, or something similar? Yeah, not so much.
There was also a description of Ravenna’s dress that made it sound like the author was writing for a dirty romance novel, but accidentally. Even a romance wouldn’t have described the queen’s… ahem… bosom with “it looked to be bursting out of her dress” when you could further describe her beauty and adornment as “her magnificent form was set off to perfection by the sparkling brilliance of her gown”. Or she could’ve kept it simple and said her dress was low-cut. Honestly.
From the first pages, it was never really clear what Ravenna’s purpose and motive was, except for somehow revenging herself on the king. Sometime in the distant past, he might’ve allowed his soldiers to kill her mother and their village, but for what reason, when and why? And you only find out that much in flashbacks, at really awkward moments. For some unknown reason, she’s given special powers, at the last second, by her mother, which ties her to her brother, and she truly loves him. Supposedly. Why? We never find out. Her childish temper tantrums are even more childish on the page than when Charlize Theron brings them to life on the screen.
After spending ten years of her life in prison, why isn’t Snow White bitter and angry? Let’s say that she was a goodhearted child who was raised to see the best in people, and has the memories of the deep love of her parents to keep her whole in mind and heart. That may be true, but is it ever mentioned? Nope. She may be naive and innocent in some ways, but do we ever get to glimpse how she developed, while kept in the darkest of prisons? Occasional memories of William surface, but nothing about either of her parents.
The most back story you ever get on a character is of the Huntsman, but even that is few and far between. He’s angry and a drunkard, all because of the loss of his wife. Temporarily, he allows himself to believe Queen Ravenna can bring her back, but not for long. And then he just automatically goes over to the side of Snow White, and almost takes a liking to her. Occasional phrases between the two bring to mind the bickering of Han Solo and Princess Leia, but this was never done as well as that. By the end of the book, you know he has to care for Snow White, because he has no other option, and she thinks she might have some sort of feeling for him, but doesn’t know what it is.
And as for William? According to the Huntsman, he’s a bit of a twerp, with a coward for a father, who isn’t nearly as brave in the book as he is in the movie. On the second to last page of the book, Snow White mentions in passing that she can never feel the same for William as the kingdom wishes she could, but did they ever mention before that that she should? Oh, that’s right, I’m supposed to assume that, understand it instinctively.
While looking up some information on Thor (yes, I always meant to see it in theaters, and then didn’t get around to it!), I found one of Chris Hemsworth’s next movies listed as… Snow White and the Huntsman 2. Ok, so it’s only been announced, that doesn’t mean they’ll follow through on it. But after the movie that could have been so much better, and the book that’s atrocious, if they’re going to try again, they better fix the problems from the first. More depth of characters, better dialogue, and put some sunshine into the possibility of romance. Maybe the book was so bad because there was absolutely nothing to work with in the screenplay? Then they should’ve gotten an author that could expand on… nothing.
And yes, if she marries the prince, and he stays as shallow and uninteresting as before, there will be an uproar. Otherwise, why have a Huntsman that we’ve come to care about, in the first place? I vote they give him a bath, put a crown on him, and his red robe from Thor, and he’ll look just like Sean Bean in Mirror Mirror.
Yes, a friend and I had a really fun rant about the problems with the movie, and I filled her in on the problems with the book. But overall, this movie hasn’t made it onto my list of favorite love/hate movies (King Arthur and The Man in the Iron Mask, for example), where I both love them and hate them, in equal parts. This movie wasn’t nearly interesting enough to score on either spectrum. Now, that’s finally out of my system…