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.
October 20, 2004 12:37pm EST
Mary-Kate's not dropping out of NYU, she says
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's freshman year at New York University is being so vigilantly dissected by the media that the diminutive millionaires can't buy a $2.50 cup of Tasty D-Lite soft-serve in the city without it making front page news. So it comes as no surprise that Mary-Kate's recent hiatus in Los Angeles is sparking rumors the brunette has not only dropped out of college, but also relapsed into an eating disorder. "She just got out of recovery when she came to New York," US Weekly editor-in-chief Janice Min said on NBC's Today show. "For anyone who has been to college, the freshman year is stressful, and when you are Mary-Kate Olsen and having the whole world watch your behavior and what you eat was too much." Mary-Kate's publicist, Michael Pagnotta, said in a statement Tuesday that Mary-Kate is in L.A. on personal business and is expected to return to New York and to school shortly, but denied reports the 18-year-old actress had suffered a setback. "Somehow there's a suggestion that she has relapsed into an eating disorder. That's just silly. She's in ongoing treatment for an eating disorder with an experienced team of professionals who are available to her on both coasts," he said. "She is working very hard at being well."
New charges filed against O'Reilly
A Fox News Channel producer filed new accusations Tuesday against O'Reilly Factor host Bill O'Reilly, claiming she has lost her job because she complained to the network about her alleged mistreatment, The Associated Press reports. According to court papers, Andrea Mackris, 33, told top executives about the alleged harassment by Sept. 29 and was told to call in sick while they investigated her complaint. But Mackris claims Fox officials have not discussed her job status since she met with Fox lawyers Oct. 5. A lawyer for O'Reilly and Fox denied Mackris has been fired or retaliated against in any way. Last week, O'Reilly filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court against Mackris and her lawyer, alleging they threatened him with a high profile sexual harassment case unless he and the network shelled out $60 million in "hush money." But Benedict Morelli, the lawyer named as a defendant in O'Reilly's case, turned around and filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News and O'Reilly on behalf of Mackris.
Growing Pains star pleads not guilty to drunk driving charges
Former Growing Pains star Tracey Gold pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges she was driving drunk when her sport utility vehicle overturned in Ventura, Calif., on September 3. Tracey Gold Marshall, 35, did not speak as her attorney entered the pleas on her behalf to three felony counts, the AP reports. She is charged with driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, driving with a blood-alcohol level above 0.08 causing injury and felony child endangerment. Although Marshall wasn't hurt when the SUV flipped on a highway in Moorpark just before midnight and rolled down an embankment, her 39-year-old husband, Roby Marshall, injured his neck and their 7-year-old son suffered a broken collarbone and a cut above his eye. The couple's two other sons, a 5-year-old and 4-month-old, who were also in the SUV but were not hurt. Her lawyer declined to discuss details of the incident.
Private service for Reeve to be held at Julliard
Christopher Reeve's family will hold a private memorial service for the actor Oct. 29 at the Juilliard School in New York, where the Superman star studied drama, according to a statement posted Tuesday on his paralysis foundation's Web site. About 900 guests are expected at the event. Reeve, who was left a quadriplegic after a May 1995 horse riding accident, died Oct. 10 after complications from an infection caused by a bed sore. He was 52. Reeve's wife, Dana, posted a letter on the Web site expressing gratitude for the support the family has received. "We are moved by and sincerely grateful for all these gestures--large and small--for they do make a difference," she said in the letter.
Trump's moving ahead with Apprentice 3
As the wannabe moguls continue to duke it out on season two of NBC's hit realty show The Apprentice, host Donald Trump has confirmed the third installment of his hit reality series has already starting filming. "It's going very well," Trump told the AP yesterday. "It's a great group."
Godzilla will get Walk of Fame star
And why shouldn't he? It's been 50 years since the genetically altered dinosaur rose out of the sea to wreak havoc on the hapless Japanese, and the fire-breathing movie monster has certainly put in his dues as part of Hollywood monster royalty. The ceremony to honor the giant lizard will be held Nov. 29 to coincide with the world premiere of Godzilla Final Wars, the 28th Godzilla movie at Hollywood Boulevard's famed Grauman's Chinese Theatre, the AP reports.
Broadcaster will air only part of anti-Kerry docu
The Sinclair Broadcast Group said Tuesday it will only air part of a documentary critical of John Kerry because of pressure from critics demanding the broadcast be canceled altogether--or face legal action, Reuters reports. Sinclair said last week it planned to show the entire 42-minute documentary Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal, made by Vietnam veteran and former journalist Carlton Sherwood, which chronicles Kerry's 1971 testimony before Congress and accuses the senator of betraying fellow Vietnam vets. But the Democratic Party filed a complaint against Sinclair with the Federal Election Commission, claiming the broadcasting company was acting as a mouthpiece for the Republican Party rather than a legitimate news outlet. Sinclair operates in 39 markets that include Florida and Ohio.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.