June 11, 2012 12:00 PM

Snow White and the Huntsman

Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth | PG-13 |

ADVENTURE

It hardly seems like a fair fight. The evil queen is a calculating sorceress. Snow White is … pretty, yet she always wins. Good for Huntsman for being solidly entertaining while raising the old debate over whether a woman’s looks are her power. I just wish the film knew what it thought about that.

On one hand, Queen Ravenna (Theron) couldn’t be more beautiful or powerful, beguiling the king and taking his throne. Theron’s queen is a mad diva in fierce costumes, giving her scenes gleeful bombast befitting the film’s dark, Game of Thrones style. Her opponent (Stewart), though, is still little more than winsome. That’s not Stewart’s fault-the actress shows more pluck than ever as Snow, bent on defeating Ravenna with the help of the drunken Huntsman (Hemsworth) and her childhood friend William (Sam Claflin). While magic seems to flow around the princess-in some of the lush film’s best effects-she never wields it. She doesn’t really learn to fight or lead; those skills just somehow manifest themselves. At more than two hours, Huntsman has time to show Snow becoming a warrior (and to give the fabulous dwarves more air as comic relief), but it doesn’t. Pity. The film gives her a sword, but in the end, her biggest weapon is still her pretty face.

Safety Not Guaranteed

Mark Duplass, Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson| R |

ROMANTIC COMEDY

It turns out you can travel pretty far on hope-maybe even all the way back in time. At least that’s what Kenneth (Duplass) believes in this funny, oddball comedy that cloaks itself in hipster cred but is really a softie romance at heart.

Kenneth places an ad in the paper looking for a time-travel buddy, noting that he’s done this only once before. Darius (Plaza, sharp with an endearing hint of vulnerability) and her magazine colleagues Jeff (Johnson) and Arnau (Karan Soni) answer the call, planning to write about the loner nut job living in his own sci-fi fantasy. Instead, they’re intrigued by Kenneth, lured by his irrepressible optimism and guarded warmth. Derek Connolly’s script is so jammed with quotable lines it won a Sundance Film Festival award. What sticks with you, though, is its joy.

Bel Ami

Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, Christina Ricci | R |

DRAMA

For those keen to see Pattinson’s bare bum, it’s five minutes in, after his scuzzy soldier Georges Duroy lucks into a couple of francs and takes up with a prostitute. The rest of you can hold on to your cash.

Lurid and treacherous, Bel Ami (On Demand now and in theaters June 4) tries to be Dangerous Liaisons, but it rushes through novelist Guy de Maupassant’s plot so fast, it succeeds only in being dumb in a hurry. Georges is a handsome, greedy lad who brilliantly fails upward. He can’t write, but after the briefest introduction, Madeleine (Thurman), a newspaper editor’s wife, pens articles for him. He isn’t faithful, but society matron Clotilde (Ricci, never lovelier) adores him anyway. Mainly, Georges passes the time by being shocked at how clever he isn’t.

Pattinson, hustling to bury Twilight’s Edward Cullen in an unmarked vampire grave, tries to show the mechanics of Georges’s mind, but he doesn’t have much to work with. He does, though, puzzle out some things: Georges has plenty of sex, however unsexy.

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