Usually, I give a film the chance to redeem itself after a dreadful opening.

Sure, over the many years I’ve ventured out to the theater, I’ve seen my share of flops. I’ve written scathing reviews about placid products that didn’t deserve a second of my time – it’s a part of the job. But, do I ever want a film to continue in the same mistakes of its opening minutes? Nope.

Not since Zack Snyder’s musical train wreck Sucker Punch have I fought the urge to walk out of a film like I did while watching Snow White and the Huntsman.

While the trailers sold this film as a revisionist’s delight – the sort of game changing fairy tale reimagining that could both win over critics and audiences alike under the banner of its stellar cast and brilliant first-time direction – the final product ended up being something different entirely.

I knew this film was in trouble from the start. The film begins in a confusing narrated sequence where the audience learns of the wicked queen Ravenna’s (Charlize Theron) ascension to power. In a lazily scripted opener, the events unfold almost in spite of themselves, shoe-horning their way into creating a stage for the film. I know that you’ve got to get the ball rolling somehow, but I mean, seriously? The film’s manipulative beginning comes to light almost as effortlessly as Ravenna’s rise to the throne.

After the dreadful opening, I kept hoping the film would improve, but my wishes were never made a reality. The languished film never realizes its vision, and as the audience, we are the true victims to the failure.

Throughout the rest of the film, we are introduced to stock characters brought to life by committed performances, staggeringly misplaced visuals stifled by a lackluster, confused script and miscalculated direction.

As soon as Kristen Stewart’s Snow White is able to look the age of Kristen Stewart, further uninspired events unfold, leading Snow White to escape from her tower prison into the “dark forest,” a copy-and-paste job of the universes created by Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. From there, the villainous queen, needing to suck the beauty out of Snow White to gain immortal power, calls on the huntsman (Thor’s Chris Hemsworth), a brutish drunkard who apparently is no stranger to the dark forest, to seek out Snow White. Reluctantly, the huntsman ventures out into the fray with a band of the queen’s not-so-merry men to seek out the ransomed Snow White.

Then, some more stuff happens, we meet the one-note dwarves, some deer with gigantic hooves turns into butterflies, and you know, I really don’t want to continue to talk about the plot because the writers sure didn’t give a care in the world for it to make any level of coherent sense.

Snow White and the Huntsman is the classic example of an idea gone awry. Sure, the film hosts some stunning visuals. I can’t deny this. While it’s nothing necessarily new or innovative, the filmmakers do give the audience something to look at. Again, in fairness, the cast also seems devoted to the material. Theron’s queen is pretty entertaining to watch, Hemsworth gives the huntsman his all, and Stewart’s Snow White does the best she can with the horridly written character.

But, therein lies the problem.

These characters and events are so undercooked it’s not funny.

The queen, with a forced backstory, ends up being some power-hungry villain from the story book cupboard of stock bad guys. Snow White is simply a plot device. The huntsman is the typical reluctant hero with pain in his past. The dwarves are simply comic relief that never live up to their original purpose. The other characters are simply inserted into the story to fill up names in the credits.

The film’s narrative structure also fails due to the poor characterization. Why in the world should I be invested in the happening of your movie if I could care less about the characters?

You’ve always got to put the horse before the cart. Before you try to tell some epic story that riffs off the style of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings series, make sure the players in the game garner audience goodwill.

I’m always disheartened to see a film go off the tracks like Snow White and the Huntsman, but this really feels like a colossal hit-and-miss attempt at greatness. First time director Rupert Sanders seemed like he really wanted this film to be a true game changer. But sadly, he and the screenwriters failed to capture enough content to match the visual presentation. You can create all the “cool looking” sequences you want. If they don’t mean anything, what’s the point?

In the end, Snow White and the Huntsman proves that style can never triumph over material.

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