Existing somewhere between the original Grimm story and the version David Fincher probably tells his kids before they go beddy-bye, the latest Snow White has plenty of gloss-aided swagger, but a few too many awful performances keep the modded-out fairy tale from flourishing.
In tune with most tellings, Kristen Stewart's princess is a girl of destiny, born to a queen inspired by the resiliency of a red rose she discovers blossoming in the winter cold. But mom dies and decent-but-dumb dad falls for a ploy allowing the sadistic Ravenna (Charlize Theron) to gut him and steal his throne. Obsessed with her youth (the mirror on the wall here is a liquefied humanoid with a booming voice), Ravenna locks her quite-fair rival in a tower as she consumes the souls of PYTs to maintain the flawless-skin status quo. When Snow White escapes into the Dark Forest, the evil queen hires the gruff Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to scoop her up, but he's too taken with his mark to carry out orders. He accompanies her deeper into the brush, where they connect with nature, beef with monsters and befriend seven dwarves played by seven English character actors (Bob Hoskins, Nick Frost, Toby Jones, Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, Johnny Harris, Eddie Marsan) en route to kingdom-wide rebellion.
Director Rupert Sanders' take on the classic goes edgy frequently, from scenes featuring characters tripping on hallucinogenic 'shrooms to Snow White donning Joan of Arc plate mail and swinging a blade in battle. It's always been a property ripe for reimagining outside the Disney mold, but this particular redux has a pair of stinkbombs working against it: its two female stars. Stewart takes so few risks with her character that an impassioned third-act battle speech doubles as a comedy routine. But she's Meryl Streep compared to the uncharacteristic work turned in by Theron, whose screeching, bug-eyed overacting is less-over-the-top than it is plain baffling.