June 2 (Bloomberg) -- “Snow White and the Huntsman” is the year’s second cinematic spin on the classic fairy tale, and it should put the fairest of them all to rest for a good long time.
Packed with special effects and more grim determination than HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” this visually elaborate, overlong retelling seems intent on reclaiming gloom for the Brothers Grimm after the recent campfest “Mirror, Mirror.”
Kristen Stewart, Hollywood’s reigning princess of dour, plays Snow White with the same mopey attitude she brings to the “Twilight” saga.
Granted, director Rupert Sanders demands little else, aside from some athletic sprinting through battlements and haunted forests. Making his own leap to features from flashy commercials, Sanders strings together the film’s magic-heavy set pieces with shaky-cam swordfights and high-falutin’ posturing.
With its slithering Dark Forest creatures, elaborate costumes (by Colleen Atwood, Oscar-worthy) and ugly-cute little fairies perched atop bunnies, “Huntsman” certainly looks lovely. Dominic Watkins’s production design even lends art-directed beauty to a muddy, plague-ready peasant village.
What “Huntsman” isn’t, though, is ravishing. It’s bereft of the emotional sweep that could lift the storytelling to the grand heights of Greig Fraser’s cinematography.
Only Charlize Theron equals the digital wizardry. She plays Ravenna, the wicked, raven-cloaked queen who kills the king on their honeymoon bed, locks Snow in a tower and awaits the day she can eat the kid’s heart.
Theron plays this monster straight up, no camp. She bellows in anger, aches for youth and beauty and literally sucks the life out of village damsels to stave off centuries of wrinkles.
Chris Hemsworth, struggling with a Scottish burr, plays the Huntsman, a drunken, sharpshooting lout ordered to do Ravenna’s dirty work. He ends up falling for Snow, as does an exiled prince (Sam Claflin), a giant, moss-covered troll, and enough woodland fauna to crowd an ark.
Not to mention dwarves. Eight (seven, soon enough) in this telling, each played by a proper, full-size British actor (Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone and Toby Jones, among them) digitally shrunk to Hobbit size. They’re a serious bunch, mostly.
We have to take Snow’s worthiness on faith. Stewart, as usual, is a void -- dreary, weepy and listless. Her late-arriving Joan of Arc moment is no more credible than a vampire’s eternal love.
“Snow White and the Huntsman,” from Universal Pictures, is playing across the U.S. Rating: **
Author Barbara Ehrenreich saw her first pink teddy bear while undergoing a particularly grueling mammogram. She was not charmed.
“I am not six years old,” Ehrenreich says in “Pink Ribbons, Inc.,” a fire-breathing documentary about the commercialization of the breast cancer awareness movement.
Based on the book by Samantha King, “Ribbons” decries not only the movement’s “tyranny of cheerfulness,” as King calls it, but corporate exploitation and image-mongering that director Lea Pool paints as little more than a pink, pretty cover-up.
The documentary cites grim statistics. In 1940, women had a 1-in-22 chance of developing breast cancer, significantly lower than today’s 1-in-8. Mortality rates and treatments have not changed significantly over the years, the film notes.
So, have the billions of charity dollars raised by companies like Revlon, Avon, Estee Lauder, KFC and Ford done any good?
“Pink Ribbons” answers yes -- for the companies.
Corporate-sponsored walks, pink merchandise and feel-good fundraising campaigns bathe sponsors in an eleemosynary glow while doing little, Pool asserts, to find a cure.
The film suggests that the very companies leading the walks against cancer are contributing to its proliferation, from cosmetics companies that use carcinogenic ingredients to Ford’s polluting pink Mustangs.
While “Ribbons” includes responses from its targets (most prominently Avon, Estee Lauder and Susan G. Komen For a Cure, the pink movement’s leading organization), the film’s undisguised take-away is its portrait of a once-grassroots movement co-opted and commercialized.
“Pink Ribbons, Inc.,” from First Run Features, is playing in New York and Los Angeles. Rating: ***
What the Stars Mean: **** Excellent *** Good ** Average * Poor (No stars) Worthless
(Greg Evans is a critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)
Muse highlights include Jeremy Gerard on theater and Lance Esplund on art.
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