Maintaining the fantastical but dropping any semblance of whimsy Snow White and the Huntsman transforms the classic fairy tale into a bleak Lord of the Rings-esque hero's tale full of sword fights monsters and forces of evil bent on wiping out humanity. Instead of creating a unique world or conflict for its revamped characters to explore SWATH plays it safe and sticks to the familiar beats coming off like an amalgamation of every fantasy film that's ever graced the silver screen. Director Rupert Sanders sticks to flashy special effects (some of which are truly stunning) over his greatest asset: the charismatic cast. Kristen Stewart Charlize Theron Chris Hemsworth and eight familiar-faced dwarves try their best to elevate the thin material on display but the film is under a sleeping spell — and no one steps in to wake it up.
Once again an evil queen manipulates her way into the castle and heart of a widower king only to cut his throat and throw his beautiful young daughter Snow into the tower to rot. Years later a magic mirror reveals to the wicked Ravenna (Theron) that the now-of-age Snow White (Stewart) is the answer to her waning magic and wrinkly skin. But as Ravenna's slimy brother Finn comes knocking at Snow's door the imprisoned princess pulls a fast one escaping and opening the door for a large-scale adventure through the forests mountains and swamps of the mystical kingdom.
SWATH's action feel particularly shoehorned in each set piece drifting by without any weight or purpose. After fleeing the tower Snow takes shelter in The Dark Forest (there wasn't a better name? or a name at all?) where she's tracked by the Queen's freelancer The Huntsman (Hemsworth). A few fleeting character moments later the two are on the run together duking it out with otherworldly trolls and joining forces with a group of pint-sized ex-gold miners who believe Snow White is "the one." The epic speak commonplace in fantasy films plagues SWATH — without any details as to how or why the world works the way it does most of the dialogue amounts to characters screaming about "destiny." The lack of specifics filters into the journey too: at one point Snow White stumbles upon a forbidden forest bustling with fairies moss-covered turtles and an antlered creature that's never been seen by humans. The beast is a sign that Snow is savior of their world. Why? Anyone's guess.
The generic quality brings down the talent on screen namely Theron's delightfully wicked Ravenna who goes full on Joan Crawford/Mommie Dearest as she pulls strings to entrap Snow White. Naysayers of Kristen Stewart will have plenty of fuel after SWATH but it's the material that fails to serve the actress in this case. The actors in the film barely get to smile — the drab overcast look of the movie clouding even the performances — but the moments when Stewart's Snow brightens up things suddenly come alive. Hemsworth lightens the mood too showing off a sliver of his comedic prowess from Thor. Between the movie's instance for doom and gloom the patchwork script and Sanders' overuse of up-close-and-personal shakycam there's rarely a moment for the actors to do their thing. It's barely worth mentioning the handful of British character actors who pop up as the Dwarves who hobble around mumbling unintelligible quips. They quickly form a bond with Snow White — or so the movie strong-arms us into believing.
Snow White and the Huntsman is stuffed with imaginative spectacle but the artistry is lost on a hollow story. Crystalline mirror shard warriors the Queen's youth-sucking powers or landscapes that look like live-action Miyazaki animation — it all looks amazing but they're never more than spiffy special effects. The movie wants to be above the visuals teasing a smart tough Snow White but the potential is squandered by never allowing the heroine to stride beyond the conventional world. If Snow White's tale is a shiny red apple then modern tropes of fantasy are the poison.
Top Story: Sony Eyes Sandler for High-Concept Script
Sony Pictures has paid a whopping $1.75 million for Click, a spec script by Bruce Almighty scribes Steve Koren and Mark O'Keefe, as a possible starring vehicle for Adam Sandler. According to Variety, the film is about an overworked advertising executive who neglects his family in favor of his career and whose life changes when he comes across a universal remote that allows him to rewind, pause and fast-forward his life. Veteran producer Neal Moritz, the man behind such actioners as 2 Fast 2 Furious and xXx, will produce through his Sony-based Original Film with Revolution Studios co-producing and co-financing the project. Click would reunite Koren with Sandler, who worked together on Saturday Night Live. Moritz, who hopes to begin production in 2004, told Variety, "I would love for Adam to do this."
Charleton Heston Gets Medal of Freedom
Academy Award winner Charlton Heston, best known for his roles in The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur and Planet of the Apes, was awarded the Medal of Freedom Wednesday by President Bush, Reuters reports. The 79-year-old actor and voice of the pro-gun National Rifle Association made public last year that he had symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, a degenerative brain ailment. Master chef Julia Child and the late Dave Thomas, Wendy's hamburger mogul and philanthropist, also received Medals of Freedom--the nation's highest civilian award.
Ice Cube Gets Apology
The Chicago Police Department has apologized for issuing a community alert last Sunday describing a man suspected in a series of sexual assaults as a dead ringer for hip-hop artist and actor Ice Cube. According to The Associated Press, a local Chicago TV station broadcast one of Ice Cube's videos when it reported the story Monday night. Police spokesman David Bayless said Tuesday, "We acknowledged the information should not have been on the alert. We took immediate corrective action. We apologize to Ice Cube for what was an honest mistake and came with no ill intent." The community alert was reissued without the Ice Cube reference.
McCartney Joins PETA's Efforts Against KFC
Paul McCartney wrote an open letter advertisement to KFC's Louisville-based parent company, Yum! Brands Inc., calling for an improvement in the treatment of 750 million chickens raised annually for KFC restaurants. The ad, the latest action by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to force KFC to implement new standards for the treatment of chickens after security cameras revealed workers torturing the animals, appears in a full-page advertisement in Thursday's edition of the Louisville The Courier-Journal. Jonathan Blum, senior vice president for public affairs for Yum! Brands, responsed: "While PETA would prefer a world of vegetarians, most people disagree, so we think PETA should follow one of Sir Paul's songs and just 'Let It Be.'"
FX's Nip/Tuck a Cut Above the Rest
FX's premiere of the plastic surgery drama Nip/Tuck got a nice slice of the Nielsen pie Tuesday, beating MTV's The Real World and Bravo's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy in the 10 p.m. time slot night to become the highest-rated new cable series premiere of the year with an impressive 3.7 million viewers. According to Reuters, Nip cut FX's recent losing streak on the original-series front after the half-hour comedy Lucky and late-night series The Orlando Jones Show both flopped. The premiere, however, failed to top the series debut of FX's cop show The Shield and the second-season premiere of USA Network's Monk.
Diana's Love Letters Read in TV Doc
Love letters sent by the late Princess Diana to her former lover James Hewitt will be read out in a British television documentary Thursday night, Reuters reports. In Confessions of a Cad, Hewitt's lawyer and friend Michael Coleman reads extracts from the love letters Diana sent Hewitt during their affair, which began in the late 1980s. "Boy oh boy, does the earth shake when I get a letter from my desert friend, screams of delight, tears, you name it. Demented female on the loose, that's for sure," she wrote in one letter while Hewitt was serving in the 1991 Gulf War. Diana is believed to have sent Hewitt more than 60 letters between 1989 and 1991.
Serena Williams Swings Into Acting
Tennis pro Serena Williams is set to play a reformed gang member on parole in an Oct. 1 episode of Showtime's Street Time, the AP reports. The show, starring Rob Morrow, begins its second season Aug. 6. "As a fan of 'Street Time,' I told myself that if given the opportunity, I'd love to be on the show," Williams said Wednesday. "I am taking this role very seriously, because I want to excel and because I have respect for the series."
Role Call: Downey and Ryder Join Woody Allen Pic, Madonna Rocks with Peet
Robert Downey Jr. and Winona Ryder are in talks to join the cast of Woody Allen's next pic for Fox Searchlight. Like all Allen films, the title, script and plot are being kept under wraps ... Ethan Hawke will direct a big-screen adaptation of his best-selling novel The Hottest State for IFC Films. The story follows two young adults as they discover intense love and grapple to define their passion for one another. No cast is attached yet ... Maverick Films has optioned the romantic comedy script She Rocks from filmmaker Amie Steir as a starring vehicle for Amanda Peet with Madonna serving as the film's executive producer. The project is described as Working Girl set in the music industry and revolves around a female music journalist who writes a career-making story about a rock star.