01 June 2012

The Road to A Blockbuster: Snow White & the Huntsman

Here we are, another Summer Friday and there's another film trying to win it big at the Box Office. More than that though, it's a film trying to completely integrate it into our popular culture. It's the kind of incessant marketing and advertising that doesn't just make the film look good but makes our lives seem incomplete until we see it. Does Snow White & the Huntsman (2012) pull that off? No, of course not. More people want to see this thing that you'd think, though, and it could be a bit of a hit.

First of all, this flick has a tough Release Date. It's saddled in between Memorial Day's Men in Black 3 (2012)  and Ridley Scott's intriguing (if you've avoided the trailers and commercials that are full of spoilers) space epic, Prometheus (2012). The only luck is that MIB3 isn't really doing all that well and there's absolutely nothing else getting a wide release this weekend. That mean the game is allll Snow White's. Well that seems kind of bizarre.

Since when is Snow White cool? Or hardass fairy tale adaptations at all? The answer is no, this was never cool. Maybe sometimes. This is all the fault of Alice in Wonderland (2010), whose visually innovative yet narratively hollow hardcore Disney Princess live action treatment rocked the hell out of the Box Office. Snow White & the Huntsman seems like this weird amalgamation of Twilight, Harry Potter, Snow White, and crack. It's all blended together in a big soup with some weird glass monsters and forest monsters and who the hell knows what else.

So again - is this cool? The film seems to be banking on it. There's a big Catch-22 at work here. The "Snow White" in the title seems to be a turn-off for any and all dudes, but without it it would just be a film about some random chick in the woods with no brand recognition. It's key that this is a revisionist re-imaging of the classic sappy tale that was once the highest grossing film in the world. That is, it banks on itself being edgy and different and full of youth fantasy appeal - something new and weird and wonderful for the whole world to enjoy. I'm not sure they've pulled it off.

Needless to say there's some kind of Twilight element here as well. The film is supposed to center around Kristen Stewart, who we've certainly shown some appreciation for, and she's again proving her status, quite literally, as the Anti-Princess. In the Twilight series Kristen Stewart is this socially awkward, terrible looking girl who finds the most maddeningly addictive sort of love - kind of a hope for brunettes everywhere. This is the same idea - it's brunettes vs. blondes all over again and that the plain Kristen can triumph and be an unorthodox princess is integral. She could very well carry plenty of Twilight fans into this and the film seems overtly interested in capturing this demographic. I still can't believe a world where she's fairer than Charlize Theron, but who am I to judge.

The marketing has tried desperately to appeal to men because the film exists in this weird space where it centers on women but has very traditionally masculine themes of war and woods and big ugly monsters. To me, the only thing that really sells it is that Thor plays the Huntsman. That and the inclusion of lots of weird creepy monsters who have no real place in a Snow White story. Or so it seems!

So this flick should do pretty well, all in all. The advertising, tho seemingly a mesh of tropes has also placed a distinctive Gothic spin on its influences. It actually has the attention of many males I know although I still think it looks stupid. Thank goodness Thor has that big shield to fight off the Queen's glass monsters! C'mon. June is sort of packed but really, who is going to see this that is also pumped for Prometheus? Or Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)? I bet this is more of a hit than you'd suggest.

Snow White & the Huntsman opens today.

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