Michael Fassbender’s The Snowman savaged by critics

Ryan Leston
UK Movies Writer

The first reviews for ‘The Snowman’ are in.

And it’s not looking good.

Michael Fassbender stars in ‘The Snowman’ – no, it’s not a cute animated film about a magical snowman with vocals from Aled Jones. Instead, this pulpy, noir thriller follows Detective Harry Hole as he works the case of The Snowman – a festive, Norwegian serial killer whose calling card is leaving a snowman outside his victim’s house.

Yes, it sounds naff… and the critics seem to agree that it is.

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Currently, ‘The Snowman’ has scored a dismal 20% over at Rotten Tomatoes, based on 10 reviews. Sure, it’s still early days, but it looks as though it’s failing to impress the critics.

The biggest criticism? Snowmen just aren’t scary.

Here’s our round-up of ‘The Snowman’s worst reviews:

Empire Magazine – Johnathan Pile
2/5

“Michael Fassbender is having a tough time of it,” reads Empire Magazine’s review. “Twice in the last 12 months he’s attempted to kick-start a new franchise. And twice, with Assassin’s Creed and now The Snowman, it looks like his efforts will be abandoned after just one film.”

“Based on the seventh novel in Norwegian author Jo Nesbø’s (currently eleven-strong) series and directed by Tomas Alfredson (Let The Right One In, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), the initial signs were good. Add to that a startling supporting cast (Val Kilmer, Chloë Sevigny and Toby Jones all show up for small roles) and the continuing interest in Scandi-noir, and it should be a no brainer. Sadly, it all fails to hang together.”

“Many of the problems stem from the storytelling, which takes many disparate parts – two different flashback timelines, a bid to host the Winter Sports World Cup led by J.K. Simmons’ Arve Støp, and Hole’s investigation and his family life – but fails to knit them together into a cohesive whole. As a result, watching the film feels like a trudge through deep snow, and when its revelations come, they fail to make the desired impact.”

Total Film – Matt Maytum
2/5

“All the signs pointed to a hit chiller: great cast, a director with fantastic form and a celebrated Jo Nesbø novel to draw from,” says Total Film. “So it’s a huge shame, then, that The Snowman is a bit grey and slushy when it should have been cool and crisp.”

“Despite the gravitas that Fassbender brings, we’re never really shown what makes Hole a remarkable detective. Rebecca Ferguson is similarly engaging as Hole’s new partner, but she’s let down by a faintly ludicrous backstory. And if the variety of supporting accents don’t distract you, Val Kilmer’s odd cameo will surely pull you out of the moment.”

“The Verdict: This intro to a new big-screen detective never quite gels, despite Fassbender’s best efforts. Too unremarkable to leave you anything but cold.”

The Telegraph – Tim Robey
1/5

“The Snowman goes wrong quickly, permanently, and in a spiral,” says The Telegraph, “turning into a nonsensical nightmare of Scandi-noir howlers from which you sometimes feel you may never awaken. Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø, from whose seventh Harry Hole thriller this is taken, has met with a fate almost as grim as the film’s multiple victims, whose severed body parts are used to accessorise the killer’s favoured call-sign: a menacing snowman placed near the scene.”

“Fassbender attempts a bleary, rheumy, sorrowful sort of turn, brought to his feet only by the sad old state of the world. But the role of Hole is so wonkily inserted into the overall plot, you regularly lose track of which lead he’s chasing up, and who’s a witness or a suspect, or what Toby Jones and Chloë Sevigny have to do with the price of tea in China.”

“If The Snowman merely aimed to max out on swooping chopper shots of frosty Norwegian harbourfronts, and otherwise to be abominable, consider the job done.”

The Hollywood Reporter – Stephen Dalton

“For all its high-caliber talent mix, The Snowman is a largely pedestrian affair, turgid and humorless in tone,” says The Hollywood Reporter. “The cast share zero screen chemistry, much of the dialogue feels like a clunky first draft and the wearily familiar plot is clogged with clumsy loose ends. While Nesbo’s novel was a pulpy page-turner, formulaic but effective, Alfredson and his team have somehow managed to drain it of tension.”

“Fassbender plays the kind of rule-breaking antihero who ticks every cliche on the flawed-genius screen cop checklist. Harry’s crime-fighting instincts are brilliant but unorthodox, which means his stuffy bosses indulge him while female co-workers find him dangerously irresistible. He may be too much of a self-absorbed drunk to keep his promises to his ex-wife and stepson, but both still adore him anyway. He is a chain-smoking alcoholic who routinely passes out on park benches, yet strangely still possesses the athletic stamina to chase villains across vast frozen landscapes wearing nothing but tastefully understated Nordic knitwear.”

“The Snowman does not do subtext. Indeed, its by-the-numbers script barely qualifies as text. When the killer’s risible psychological motivation is finally revealed, it feels as if the screenwriters began reading Freud for Dummies, but did not even get to the end. Alfredson has yet to make a terrible film, and The Snowman is certainly not terrible, but it falls way short of what a superior big-budget thriller should deliver.”

‘The Snowman’ stars Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Fergusson, Val Kilmer, J.K. Simmons and Toby Jones.

Tomas Alfredson directed the film, based on a script by Hossein Amini and Peter Straughan.

‘The Snowman’ heads to cinemas on 13 October 2017.

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