Imagine a world of film where there aren’t scenes of Val Kilmer grunting in the snow? That world would be extremely dull. The Snowman is properly rubbish; to a point where it’s hard to comprehend just how rubbish it is. After about the first minute it was evident that something went badly wrong during the production of this film. Another 30 minutes passes and I’m now thinking is it all a massive joke? Are the film-makers pulling one over us? Otherwise it could be the worst film I have ever seen in the cinema. And I’m quite relieved about this because quite frankly there is too much good stuff out there. It’s really hard to make a good film, yet there have been plenty of them this year. So thank god for The Snowman and its ability to make me laugh at its flaws.
To dissect the comedy of the film we’ll start with plot. There is kind of a lot going on and then at the same time nothing that matters? It is never clear what the main plotline is or what the point is. The narrative bounces around with little connections between. To be honest the plot of the film is the least funny part of it because it makes absolute no sense. By the end of the film the thread of the weak murder mystery is pulled together but without any pay off. The killer comes out of the blue (though I guessed him half way through) to give a final ten minutes that is completely baffling. Up to this point the film had been a series of edits rather than scenes, with some characters having no ties to the main story. There are other weird detectives other than Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) who are present in a different city because why? I honestly couldn’t tell you. There is a side-plot of a sexually abusive business mogul that has no relevance to anything, that comes with an added on J.K Simmons role. Most of all the film is one big long continuation of exposition and ex machina’s. Every piece of information is thrown in your face and made obvious by either a weird cut or music queue. The plot devices are numerous – including a square portable computer that the detectives have to use. Why? Are we in a different universe to our own? Do phones, computers, iPad’s not exist? Nope just so we can get one shot of the bad guy deleting some files. Preposterous.
There is a screaming in your face problem in this film that is clear from the very start. The editing. It’s interesting to note that this film has two editing credits, and I assume they’re both children. It’s edited like about thirty different people have had a go at it. Within the first minute there must have been fifty different cuts. It was like they shot the whole movie then realised the record button wasn’t on at the end of filming, and consequently had to cut every three seconds to make a cohesive runtime. The film would cut to close-up and I would laugh, then suddenly it would cut to somewhere completely different and I was simply bewildered by it. Timing in editing is massive, and this felt really off – to where dramatic moments would become comedic ones. I cannot tell you how funny the actual snowmen in the film were, and when it cut to them I could not hold the laughter in. The director must have been distant during this part of production as there was certainly no vision in this aspect of the process. There are actual scenes (not really scenes) in this film where all the action is skipped through via the edit and if you manage to make it to the end you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, J.K Simmons and Toby Jones are all in this film. These are four massive and talented performers. Fassbender is so absent throughout and combine this with his paper thin character you get a leading role that’s impossible to care about. Ferguson has the only slightly intriguing role but never given enough chance to be engaging. J.K Simmons is miscast and a pointless distraction. And Toby Jones is wasted for one scene of exposition. However none of them have anything on the totally unfathomable Val Kilmer appearance. I have run out of words to describe his disjointed, mumbling uncomfortable attempt at whatever he is attempting. His scenes are separate from the rest of the narrative, and I can’t for the life of me work out why he was cast. He is clearly insane. Which is a shame because Val Kilmer was once a great actor, and has a great Twitter – where he comes across as quite normal. In The Snowman though he is a struggle to watch, like a cat slowly dying after it has been hit by a car.
Go and see this film if you get the chance because it is definitely an experience. I have so many questions for the people that made it, and I can’t even imagine the atmosphere at the premiere. It is something I have not quite witnessed before – A film based on a popular series of books, with a famous cast and skilled director that fails on every level. Usually bad films have one or two things wrong with them, and sometimes these bad films become more appreciated as time goes on. The Snowman gets it wrong on pretty much every film-making basis and cannot be appreciated in any way. Thankfully so, because the world is way more colourful when these horrid outliers occur.
(The actual editors of the film were not children; in fact one of them is Thelma Schoonmaker who is probably the greatest working editor. Something dark happened to the people who made this film.)
(Also, I’m aware Val Kilmer has throat cancer, which could explain his peculiarity, but why cast him?)