For the first 20 minutes or so of the latest take on "Snow White," I was more than happy with the ride. It was dark, it was unsettling, Charlize Theron was thoroughly scary -- and the whole look was unsettling. Sure, it was extreme -- Theron was not about to underplay this part -- but that worked, too. This was not just a retelling of the Snow White story; it was a reinvigoration of it. I even hoped Kristen Stewart, as Snow White, would break out of her "Twilight" vacuum to remind people she's a respectable actress. (See my previous note about "Welcome to the Rileys.")
Would that the movie as a whole had sustained that early tone. It did manage to keep it going trhough Snow White's escape from the Evil Queen, and her flight into the dark forest (although there were some chuckle-inducing moments, such as the sudden appearance of a white horse to help sav e Snow). But the movie seemed to lose its grip with the arrival of the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth of "Thor" and "The Avengers"). Hemsworth, and his conversations with Stewart, made the movie seem more pedestrian, as if you were suddenly stuck at a concert with people nattering behind you.
The grip became even looser as Snow and the Huntsman went on a journey that lasted too long and seemed too borrowed from other movies ("Time Bandits" and "Alice in Wonderland" among them). More than once I drifted into fond memories of the cheesy, funny travels in "The Princesss Bride." Oh, it was fun to see the likes to Ian McShane and Toby Jones playing the story's dwarfs. But they were still in service of Stewart's Snow White, who became increasingly bland, even in the fight scenes. And bland is not how you want to be when working opposite Theron.
In short, I liked the beginning of the movie, and was satisfied by the end, but did a fair amount of watch-checking in the middle. In those parts, "Snow White" was a lovely picture book. But the story didn't live up to the illustrations.