Most of the time I do reviews of movies. This article is different as I do a side-by-side comparison of two versions of the same story. There’s Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs that generations of moviegoers are familiar with. There’s now Snow White And The Huntsmen that aims to be a modern version of the famous fairy tale character. The question is how do they compare side to side?
First off, let’s run down the first nitty gritty factors of the movies. Snow White And The Seven Dwarfsis more than just a delightful animated
movie. It’s a part of filmmaking history. It’s the first ever feature-length animated movie. And it was made against incredible odds. Walt Disney took five years to make this movie as it involved a lot of drawings and a lot of effort. It was expensive for its time at $1.5 million and Walt had to take out a lot of loans for this movie. And during the Great Depression to boot. In the end, it became a huge hit in 1937 grossing $8 million worldwide and world propel further animated movies in the future. To this day the American Film Institute still ranks it as the Best Animated Movie ever.
Now Snow White And The Huntsmen isn’t really much of a filmmaking breakthrough. It’s a life-action version of the Snow White story, which has been done before. It features familiar actors Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth and Sam Claflin. While this film is not much of a cinematic breakthrough, it is a personal breakthrough for director Rupert Sanders. He has directed commercials and TV episodes in the past. This is his first direction of a feature-length film and it cost $170 million to make. It has so far grossed $152 million at the North American box office: $370 million worldwide.
To compare the actual Snow White character, let’s give a bit of a rundown in terms of the times. First off Snow White And The Huntsmen is done in the present by modern-day director. Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs was released in 1937 and done by Walt Disney. You can be sure both films would be reflective of the ideal female roles for the two main female characters and both would reflect the directors’ visions at the time. The Disney Snow White has a very happy and cheerful attitude but is very naive to the threats that surround her. She lost her parents and is exiled in the woods but still holds her spirits high even after the queen’s assassin tells her to flee. The modern Snow White, played by Kristen Stewart, is a girl scorned. She has had enough of the imprisonment and wants out. However she feels there’s no way out. It isn’t until after she sees an opportunity escape and seizes it that it’s revealed she has a determination in her to fight to be free, even if it means walking through castle sewage to get it.
The reflections of the different types of Snow White characters is also reflective in their biggest desires. Disney’s Snow White wants to be free but she feels she found it in living with the seven dwarfs. Her biggest desire is to find her ‘prince’ as evident in the song ‘Someday My Prince Will Come’. Modern Snow White wants love too but she wants her freedom more. She knows she has to continue fighting even after she is free from the prison. She knows the queen and her men and she knows the threats will continue as long as the queen is alive.
Both Snow Whites are subject to negative opinions from some about the way they’re depicted. First off modern audience goers would find the Disney Snow White, voiced by Adriana Caselotti, as too naive for the present and very lacking in ‘street smarts’. Kristen Stewart’s Snow White could also be subject to negative opinions as Disney fans may feel she lacks the cheerfulness and many other moviegoers could think she makes Snow White into Xena: Warrior Princess.
The character of the queen has a common similarity: beauty. Walt Disney wanted a beautiful queen in his film as part of the reflection of the queen’s desire to be the ‘fairest of all’ and her evil envy of Snow White. We shouldn’t forget that sometimes evil can be disguised as something beautiful. The modern evil queen is given a name, Ravenna, and is played by Charlize Theron who is renowned for her beauty. The dissimilarity between the two evil queens is that the Disney queen is seen as very stockish in her desire to see Snow White dead because of her envy, and only because of that. Ravenna is shown as the killer of Snow White’s father, whom she killed on her wedding day and had Snow White imprisoned. It’s the familiar evil stepmother role in fairy tales. Ravenna is shown not only as a queen of envy over Snow White but as a victim herself. She learns from the mirror that has to destroy Snow White for the sake of her immortality or she will be the mortal one. Even giving Snow White the poisonous apple would show two differing means of disguises. The Disney queen would take a potion to tune her into an old lady. Ravenna would metamorphose into William, son of Duke Hammond, to give Snow White the fatal apple.
The other notable difference of the two Snow Whites is the differing their main supporting character, or characters. In Disney’s Snow White, it was the seven dwarfs. All seven were cute with cute names and charming personalities. They worked hard but they sang, danced and lived cheerfully. They were first surprised to see Snow White and thought of her as an intruder but would come to welcome her, love her, and even avenge her against the queen after she gave Snow White the poisonous apple. In the modern Snow White, the dwarves are seen as a minor supporting character in the movie who assist with the Huntsman in her well-being and warriors with Snow White and the Huntsman against the queen. It’s the Huntsman in the modern Snow White who’s the main supporting character now.
The Huntsman in the modern Snow White is under command from the queen to kill and receive the hand of her brother’s deceased wife in marriage. He learns from Finn, the brother, that it was a false promise and then becomes Snow White’s ally helping her escape with the help of women disfigured by Ravenna and the help of the seven dwarves. The Huntsman is the man who kisses Snow White back to life but it’s not happily ever after yet as they must battle Ravenna before Snow White can be married to the Hunstman. In Disney’s Snow White it is the prince whose kiss revives Snow White and marries her. The Huntsman is only seen at the beginning as the one who tries to kill Snow White but can’t and gives the queen a pig’s heart to trick her into thinking Snow White is dead.
It’s not just the characters themselves that make the two Snow White movies different but also the stories themselves. The beginning especially. In the Disney movie we’re given a storybook narration of what has happened in the past and leads to the beginning with the queen at the mirror saying “Mirror, mirror on the wall…” Snow White and the Huntsman goes back to when Snow White is a young girl and her favorite playmate is the Duke’s son William. Ravenna is prisoner of the Dark Army rescued by the recently widowed King Magnus, father of Snow White. King Magnus is actually killed by Ravenna after he marries her, imprisons Snow White and seized control of the kingdom leaving it lifeless and full of sadness. Even the setting of the forest is different as Disney shows a charming forest full of happy creatures while the modern Snow White shows a nice forest that’s not immune by threats like insects and other dangers.
Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs and Snow White And The Huntsman are two differing movies of the same story. As for which is the best depiction, I can’t say because I have not read the original Snow White story by the Brothers Grimm. Nevertheless both have their entertainment values and one would appeal over another depending on their movie preferences.
Once again, Marvel Comics had another superhero movie for release. This time it was Thor and it’s directed by Kenneth Branagh. The big question is does Thor stack up? And is Branagh able to direct sci-fi action?
Before I give my review, I have to confess that I’ve never read the Thor comic books so I am unable to compare the movie with the comics. I can just judge the movie for what it is.
The movie takes place between two worlds. The first is in the supernatural world of Asgard in 965 A.D. The second is in present day New Mexico. Odin, king of Asgard is in a war against the Frost Giants in their quest to conquer the Nine Realms, including Earth. The Asgardian army wins and seizes the Casket of Ancient Winters. Just as Odin is about to crown Thor the new king, Frost Giants attempt to retrieve the Casket. Against Odin’s order, Thor battles Laufey and the Giants along with his brother Loki, childhood friend and the Warriors Three. The battle destroys the fragile truce between the two races and Thor is stripped of his godly power by Odin for his arrogance. He is banished via a Bifrost to present day Earth along with his hammer–the source of his power–protected by an enchantment only allowing the worthy to wield it.
Thor lands in present-day New Mexico where he is found by astrophysicist Jane Parker, her assistant Darcy Lewis and her mentor Dr. Selvig. However Thor and the hammer also caught the attention of a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who soon commandeers the hammer area building a security-tight shield and and forcibly acquires Jane’s data about the wormhole that delivered Thor to earth. Thor learns of his hammer inside the S.H.I.E.L.D. area and breaks in to retrieve it. He’s unable to lift it and is captured by the S.H.I.E.L.D. team. Selvig is able to break him free and is left exiled on Earth clueless of his surroundings. He does develop a romance with Jane.
In the supernatural world, Loki learns he is the son of Laufey, the leader of the Frost Giants who the king adopted after the war ended. Loki is able to manipulate his way to becoming king when a stressed-out Odin falls into a deep recuperating ‘Odinsleep’. He offers Laufey the chance to kill Odin and retrieve the Casket. His rule does not sit well with the Warriors Three and try to find a way to enter the Bifrost but Loki soon learns of the plan and sends a warrior to Earth to kill Thor. The Warriors find Thor, but the Destroyer attacks and defeats them, which prompts Thor to offer himself instead. After he’s hit by the the Destroyer by a potentially fatal strike, his self-sacrifice now makes him worthy to wield the hammer. As he finally retrieves his hammer, his powers return to him and allows him to defeat the Destroyer. Before he leaves back to Asgard with his fellow Asgardians, he kisses Jane goodbye and vows to return.
As Thor and the Asgardians return to Asgard, Loki kills Laufey in an attempt to destroy the Frost Giants land with the Bifrost Bridge to appear worthy of the crown to Odin. Thor arrives and fights Loki while destroying the Bifrost Bridge to destroy Loki’s plan. Thor is left to battle Loki stranded on Asgard in danger of falling into the Abyss. Odin awakes and prevents the brothers from falling into the abyss, but Loki does a suicide fall. Before Odin coronates Thor, Thor admits he’s not ready to be king while back on Earth, Jane and her colleagues seek for a way to open the portal to Asgard.
Overall the movie has the predictable thick drama one would come to expect from a superhero movie. The special effects were excellent and top notch. The set design of the world of Thor was excellent. The action scenes were scenes that can keep one thrilled. The acting was the type of thick and casual acting one would expect from a popcorn movie, so no really bravado performance from Natalie Portman here. There’s no doubt the role of Thor was intended to make Chris Hemsworth a star. The directing was done right. Kenneth Branagh did a good job. The writing was also well done but sometimes went over the top during some of the more comical scenes. Overall Thor is the type of movie that would impress people who like action hero movies or your expected summer blockbuster fare.
Thor was a very good start to the summer movie season. It has what it takes to charm audiences of action movies and superhero movies as well as get summer movie crowds excited.