- Running time:
- 127 minutes
- Kristen Stewart -
- Snow White
- Charlize Theron -
- Chris Hemsworth -
- The Huntsman
- Sam Claflin -
- Ian McShane -
Snow White and the Huntsman (* * 1/2 out of four, PG-13, opens Friday) is one of those movies that makes for a fantastic trailer. Much beyond that can feel like repeat viewing.
That's not altogether bad. Stunningly shot and inconsistently acted and written, Snow White has enough visual fireworks to keep the film afloat, even if star Kristen Stewart can't get out of Twilight mode.
A modern-day twist on the 200-year-old fairy tale, Snow White aims to be The Lord of the Rings meets the Brothers Grimm. And while the battle scenes are fitting of a Tolkien tale, the performances prevent the story from having the resonance of either movie or fable.
Directed by feature-film freshman Rupert Sanders, Snow White wastes little time plunging us into the story, overlong at more than two hours.
We are introduced to the beautiful, cunning Ravenna (Charlize Theron), the evil queen who dispatches her husband and overtakes the kingdom within the first 15 minutes of the movie. If only the rest were as briskly paced.
As in the fairy tale, the queen locks her late husband's beautiful daughter, Snow White, in a tower prison while plunging the realm into chaos. And like the fable, the queen grows discontented when a computer-generated mirror tells her she is no longer the fairest of them all.
The epiphany triggers the film's formidable action, which sends Snow White on the run and the studly huntsman Eric (Chris Hemsworth) on her trail. But he soon declines his mission, opting to protect the princess — and face the queen's wrath.
This should be slam-dunk stuff. The twist is believable and a gateway to jaw-dropping fight scenes. But as soon as the film starts to hum, it's slowed by psychoanalysis and manic acting.
Stewart, in particular, seems miscast. She is as sullen and morose as she was in the Twilight franchise, and we need more verve from a hero meant to embody the modern woman. But the script gives her little to do but sulk.
Theron sits at the opposite end of the emotional spectrum. With a scream that sounds like nails on a chalkboard, Theron's over-the-top villain plays a little like the Wicked Witch of the West. And it's debatable that Stewart bests Theron in the beauty department.
The strongest performance belongs to Hemsworth, who seems more comfortable than ever as an action star. This follow-up to his roles in Thor and The Avengers allows him to display a little frailty and humor, though we could use more of both.
The film includes nods to the fairy tale, but they don't always work. There are dwarfs (eight instead of seven, for some reason), and they have many of the film's most humorous scenes. But they are too few and far between.
None of this may matter to the Twitter generation, for whom this was clearly made. Snow White is gorgeous, and the message — that women don't need to be the damsels in distress — should appeal to parents not put off by the dark imagery.
Still, maybe someone should have asked that mirror, "Who are the fairest screenwriters of them all?'' — and hunted them down.
Movie theaters and showtimes for Snow White and the Huntsman in Des Moines.
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