R Dir: Tomas Alfredson | Universal | 1h 59min
Plot: What’s it about?
There’s a saying that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Well I don’t think that applies to certain cases. With this film in particular, Director Tomas Alfredson stated shortly before its release that due to the short filming schedule that 10-15% of the script wasn’t filmed. This was in response to the many negative reviews the film received. Unfortunately what was shown to us is absolutely dreadful. So dreadful in fact that I highly doubt if that remainder was filmed that it would’ve made much of a difference at all. Sadly we’re in the modern world where comments like that can go viral and certainly hurt a film’s performance. I recall the 2015 incident with Fantastic Four where the director tweeted how disappointed he was with the final product. I’m all for free speech and all, but why bite the hand that feeds? I actually enjoyed Four, but The Snowmanis a film that’ll likely raise several WTF’s out of audiences. I had such high hope for this film. The trailers and posters showed a lot of promise. I thought this would be a sure thing and there’s no way it could be bad. Boy, way I wrong. The ugly reviews started pouring in, but I had to give the film a chance. I saw it in theaters and couldn’t believe just how bad it was. It’s hard to see what went wrong and where to start, but I’ll try my best.
Detective Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender, and YES that’s the character’s actual name) is a detective who is more than a little troubled. He’s an alcoholic and looks like he hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in quite some time. There’s a Snowman killer and Hole and his newly recruited partner, Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson) are on the case. The film’s opening sequence showing us Harry being tutored one day then witnessing his mother’s drowning death is more than a little weird and starts the film off on not just a wrong, but also very weird note. There’s just so much going on here, but nothing adds up to much of anything. Val Kilmer (in an equally strange performance) shows up here, but the actor is visibly ill and apparently had his voice dubbed. The whole thing just feels off, and we’re never really sure what to make of his character. We also learn that Hole is trying to stay involved with the son of his ex-girlfriend while she’s clearly moved on. The film takes place in Norway, and the setting is nearly perfect for a suspense film of this sort, but there are problems aplenty. The script never gives us anything solid to latch onto. We’re not invested in the central mystery, none of the characters (and there are many) or really anything seen here. Instead, we just keep waiting and hoping for the film to find to find its groove and run with it, but it never does. Instead, it can’t end soon enough.
The Snowman is a frustrating watch for many reasons. What’s sad is the potential is clearly there. The trailers showed so much promise that you almost want to send a thank you to the marketing team. I wonder just how they pieced together all the crappy footage from the film to sell us on something that’s downright unwatchable. Nothing here makes sense at all and nothing really adds up. This is where that extra 10-15% might’ve helped, but we still can’t care enough. Hollywood is notorious for remaking good films, but here’s one in desperate need of a solid remake. I wonder what someone like Christopher Nolan might’ve done with this material. Wonder is all I can do at this point. Regardless, skip this film.
Video: How’s it look?
You can paint a turd in gold, but it’s still a turd. That’s what I’ll say here, because the transfer is near perfect. The snowy atmosphere looks stunning in HD, but who cares when the film is so lousy? Still, the print is pristine, colors nice and rich and details strong. Sharpness is on point as well. The image is AVC encoded with a 1.85:1 ratio.
Audio: How’s it sound?
We get a DTS HD track really adds to the film as well. Nothing feels limited or restricted, instead, making us feel like we’re right there with these characters. There’s a broad spectrum at work here, with all the little details playing a small part in the grand scheme of things. Vocals also come across as clear (even Kilmer’s dubbed voice). This track serves the film well.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Cast of Characters – This goes for about 7 minutes giving us a glimpse of the various characters seen in the film.
- Creating Jo Nesbo’s World – We learn about how they wanted to stay true to the author’s vision. This one is about 4 minutes long.
- The Snowman Killer – Another 4 minute feature detailing the villain seen in the film.
- Norwegian Landscape – Admittedly, the film does have a nice setting to work with. This takes a look at keeping things authentic looking.
- Stunt Files: The Sinking Lake – This is the shortest feature that looks at the filming of a key sequence.
The Bottom Line
It’s hard to see exactly what it wrong here. Something was clearly lost in translation. Even if the entire script was filmed, it likely wouldn’t have made a difference. What was presented to us is lousy for reasons other than missing pieces. There was so much potential here, but this one never gains momentum. It’ll likely leave viewers scratching their heads or reaching for the remote to turn the thing off. Either way, it’s one to skip.