You should never take fairy tales too seriously. This is good advice for anything from consulting pigs about construction materials to making a major motion picture.
The movie “Snow White and the Huntsman” (the second film to take a stab at the Snow White fable this year, yea public domain!) fancies itself a weighty, medieval, fantasy-epic.
But the problem is that our collective unconscious is jammed with poison apples and housekeeping forest animals and “Hi-Hoooooo!” to the point, it is pretty much impossible for us to associate Snow White with gritty realism.
Kristen Stewart plays Snow White, and to her credit, she is as likable here as she has ever been anywhere. This was accomplished by not giving her a lot to say and encouraging her to smile.
So you know the drill, an evil queen (played by Charlize Theron, who chews more scenery than a colony of Universal-Studios-based termites) takes over Snow White’s kingdom.
A magic mirror consultation reveals that killing Snow White will make the queen immortal, so she sends for the girl who promptly escapes into the dark forest where the queen conveniently has no powers.
The queen employs the titular Huntsman (Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth), a drunken widower, to retrieve Snow White from the forest.
Captivated by her beauty, the Huntsman instead agrees to shepherd Show White to the rebellious corner of the kingdom that holds out in defiance of the queen.
It also happens to be the home of William, Snow White’s childhood friend who ventures out to find her with his trusty bow and arrow at his side. Between this movie, “The Avengers” and “The Huger Games” archery is hot right now. Somewhere William Tell smiles down as apples everywhere grow increasingly nervous.
So anyway, because Stewart is contractually obligated to have at least two hunky dudes fight over her in every movie, we are left with a love triangle that has little sizzle and no bang.
“Snow White and the Huntsman” is the feature debut of director Rupert Sanders, who desperately wants to be Peter Jackson. In fact, one scene, where a team of black riders is racing through the woods chasing Snow White on the back of a white horse, is so directly stolen from “Lord of the Rings” that I’ll give Sanders the benefit of the doubt and just call it an homage.
The movie struggles throughout to find the proper tone and is actually at its best when it is at its weirdest; featuring bunny-riding fairies, mossy turtles, grumpy bridge trolls, and, of course, seven dwarves. The dwarves, gamely played by a stable of British character actors like Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, and Toby Jones might be the best part of the movie.
While “Snow White and the Huntsman” is nowhere near as terrible as last year’s fairy tale fiasco “Red Riding Hood,” the movie never really gels and by the time the film’s final act plays out featuring Snow White: Warrior Princess, it becomes increasingly difficult to care about anyone or anything on the screen.
Perhaps when it comes to fairy tales movie studios should just leave well enough alone unless they can come up with something that won’t leave the audience feeling grumpy, sleepy, or dopey.
“Snow White and the Huntsman” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and brief sensuality.