With her passive Bella Swan role in the "Twilight" films coming to an end, Kristen Stewart hops atop a different horse in "Snow White & the Huntsman." As Snow, Stewart gets to swing a sword, but don't be fooled. She spends so much time waffling sullenly between two warrior-suitors that "Snow White" feels like little more than "Twilight" in chain mail.
Those movies have at least given us a few loopy laughs, but "Snow White" is one grim, humorless Renaissance Faire. First-time director Rupert Sanders wallows in violent battles and morbid special effects, though whenever he remembers that young girls are watching he fills the screen with pixie dust and friendly forest animals. Is this movie trying to be "Excalibur" or "My Little Pony"?
As in "Mirror Mirror," another disastrous Snow White adaptation, the most compelling character is the evil queen. In that film, Julia Roberts imagined her as a kind of spoiled suburbanite, while Charlize Theron here plays a tragic figure, Ravenna, who is literally cursed by beauty. (Both queens undergo extensive spa treatments.) Swooning, half-mad and screaming in rage and terror, Theron's Ravenna dominates the film right up to her last scene.
The cast certainly isn't to blame for this botched film. Playing the roughneck dwarves are several fine, full-size British actors, including Bob Hoskins and Eddie Marsan. Sam Spruell is marvelously malevolent as Ravenna's brother, Finn. Chris Hemsworth, as the beefy huntsman Eric, again speaks fake Shakespeare with authority (aside from one stray "OK"), though Sam Claflin fades into the mists as Snow's childhood sweetheart, William.
Stewart, a smart, cool presence in films like "The Runaways" and "Adventureland," deserves better than this. But it's going to take more than a sword to stop her from becoming Bella Swan for eternity.
PLOT A princess hunted by an evil queen leads a rebellion to reclaim her throne. RATING PG-13 (violence and gruesome imagery)
PLAYING AT Area theaters.
BOTTOM LINE A turgid, humorless Renaissance Faire, with Stewart rehashing her "Twilight" role as a princess torn between two lovers.
Designer costumes for 'Snow White'
Charlize Theron's evil queen costumes for "Snow White & the Huntsman" called for hundreds of hand-cut rooster feathers, thousands of iridescent beetle wings from Thailand and one particularly imposing crown.
The outfits represented a host of firsts for Academy Award-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood.
From the leather piping on the pleats of the queen's wedding gown to the gauzy green metal trim on the beetle-wing dress, the nine-time Oscar nominee and three-time winner experimented with materials for director Rupert Sanders' dark take on the classic fairy tale.
"The idea of the fairy tale sets you free in a way because you can make it up," Atwood said. "And I love to make up stuff." She created an armored ensemble fit for a queen by dressing up chain mail with rolled leather and horsehair trim and topping it off with a particularly pointy metal crown.
-- Assiciated Press