"Mirror, mirror on the wall, what summer blockbuster was the most obvious money making attempt of them all?"
If this question was asked two weeks ago, the answer would have been "Battleship." But fortunately for Liam Neeson's reputation, "Snow White and the Huntsman" has topped the mediocrity of that board game adaption, and raised the stakes another level with its uneven and superficial tackling of the Brothers Grimm classic.
The film stars Kristen Stewart, who has perfectly mastered the "partially intrigued, opened mouth stare" expression but not much else, as its lead, as well as Chris Hemsworth (of "Thor" and "Avengers" fame) and the ever-radiant Charlize Theron. Directed by Rupert Sanders, a Londoner known more for his commercials than anything else, the film attempts to revamp the Disney cartoon bastion by returning it to its German folk tale roots, but in doing so it loses sight of its storytelling potential.
With that being said, "Snow White" was not without its positives. For starters, the visuals of the movie are at times nothing less than stunning. There are moments where even the most ardent cynic in the audience is shocked by the world and images that Sanders and cinematographer Greig Fraiser have created. In fact, the first 15 minutes were essentially one breathtaking set piece after another, drifting from a snow covered palace courtyard to an earth-shaking battleground and ending in a castle takeover. That opening sequence of visuals was also, coincidentally, the best fifteen minutes of the movie (followed closely by the 5 minutes in which Stewart was off-screen and her character presumed dead/comatose). Not only did the movie itself look great, but in the confines of its mangled storyline, Charlize Theron (as always) shined as the terrifyingly beautiful yet evil Queen Ravenna.
Theron's Ravenna is as cruel as she is gorgeous, which is definitely saying something. Her character is part bitter aging beauty queen, who is desperately clinging to the last vestiges of her good looks, mixed with a dash of megalomaniacal tyranny and a shade of crazy for good measure. Not only did her role shine with its outward appearance and actions, but also she was the only person in the movie to have any sustained depth. Ravenna is both blessed and cursed by her beauty. It is what gives her strength, but it is also what spawns her growing cruelty and ultimately forces her own undoing. Ravenna is in a way a tragic figure: although evil, she was made that way by not only herself but others, as it was the perception that her usefulness to society came only through her physical beauty that created her downward spiral.
Regardless of the looks of the film and Theron's acting abilities, "Snow White and the Huntsman" is not a good movie. Rather, it has all of the feeling of a Hollywood studio's cash-in attempt on two rising celebrities stuck in a fan-favorite scenario of love-triangles, fight scenes and hunky Australians. And it is this overtone that dooms the movie. Hemsworth and Stewart were simply bad actors playing even poorer roles. They were past predictable and bordered on shallow and repetitive. It is not entirely the fault of the two leads, however, as not only did they play a story that everyone knows the ending to, but they also had very little quality writing to work with.
Overall, "Snow White" was doomed before it was even released. Like most remakes, it's hard to tell a story in a new and better way than a beloved original. "Snow White and the Huntsman" appears to be a brave attempt at revamping the Disney classic while bringing in the dark undertones of the Grimm tale, but ultimately it was nothing more than disappointing. Regardless of the beauty of its visuals and the strength of Theron, there is little to cheer about, making the film not worth the price.