As I write this, I'm watching the last act of Snow White and the Huntsman. That I'm doing a review before the show is over says something, I think.
The story isn't bad. It's a gritty interpretation that manages to put in dirt and blood while retaining the straightforward roles and tropes of the fairy tale. Visually, the movie is pretty, the music is OK, if not particuarly original. Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron do a good job with what they're given, and even Kristen Stewart manages to act in a few scenes.
What the story is missing is heart. There's no emotional buy-in from me, and honestly the director never really provides a hook for it.
We start with the Good King and his lovely Queen, in a magical kingdom long ago and far away. The Queen wishes upon a rose blooming in winter (thus, presumably, magical) for a daughter with the storied "skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair black as a raven's wing." Of course, she gets her wish, and we're treated to a happy young Snow White and her happy parents in their happy kingdom. But we're never given a way to join in that happiness. It flashes by in minutes, a montage of generic good times, less inspriring than someone else's vacation slide-show.
Of course, things don't stay good. The Good Queen dies, and the King marries the Evil Queen, doubling down on the fairy tale content of the film by invoking the Wicked Stepmother. In less time than it took to tell the last sequence, the Evil Queen murders the King in their wedding bed, imprisons Snow White (because a royal-bloodded sacrifice might be handy, later), betrays the kingdom, and brings a never-ending blight upon the land.
Again, the sequence of the kingdom decending into ruin is as emotionally void as the good-times opening. The Evil Queen's evil is as was the Good King's good, stated matter-of-factly. We don't pity her victims, at least not much, because they're just random extras, predictably slaugtered in a poorly choreographed coup.
Snow White grows up a prisoner. She gets almost no interaction with any other characters, except for a few lines of dialog with a minor character who dies within three minutes of being introduced. By the time she escapes, it's been implied that the Evil Queen had a troubled past that drives her to be nastier and tougher than the world. Of course, it's just a brief mention, sandwiched in between the revelation that she murders young women to maintain her youth and beauty and a scenery-chewing rant in which she decides to sacrifice Snow White to gain immortality. When the Queen's brother goes to fetch her, Snow White escapes into the Dark Forest.
So, at 30 minutes into the film, nothing of any emotional import has happened. There's nothing surprising, nothing new. It's prettily filmed, but that's all there is to it. Every opportunity to give the audience a character with whom they can relate is missed, either for a visual effect, or to hurry on to the next plot point.
At about 40 minutes into the film, the director introduces the Huntsman, spending more time explaining who he is than on any previous character. By this point, though, I don't much care.
The lesson to be learned is this: It doesn't matter how classic and beloved your story, or how pretty your version is. If you don't give the audience someone to care about (whether they love them or hate them) in the first fifteen minutes, it's over.