Susan Granger's review of 'Snow White and the Huntsman'
While this grimly revisionist Grimm fantasy appears family-friendly, it's PG-13 - with ominously discordant, disturbing elements that may scare younger children.
As the fairy tale begins, young Snow White's widowed father, King Magnus (Noah Huntley), is stabbed on his wedding night by his scheming bride, Ravenna (Charlize Theron), who she sucks the life-essence from his heart, snarling about how men only love her for her beauty. Seizing the throne, the evil Queen, who seems to have an incestuous relationship with her brother, Finn (Sam Spruell), incarcerates Snow in the castle tower.
When the magic mirror says she's become pretty enough to pose a threat to her vain stepmother, Snow (Kristen Stewart) escapes into the dark, fog-laden forest, a bleak, Gothic woodland that's designed to evoke nightmares. Lured into service by the Queen's promise to resurrect his dead wife, a grieving Huntsman ("Thor" Chris Hemsworth -- speaking with a Scottish burr) agrees to track her down. Meanwhile, the aging Queen devours various young women to miraculously rejuvenate her power. There's a huge, menacing troll; an interlude with dwarves (Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, Toby Jones, Ray Winstone, Eddie Marsan) whose identities are barely sketched; a poisoned apple; enchantment in a sprite-filled faerie sanctuary; brief respite with women have disfigured themselves to elude the Queen; and a reunion with Snow's devoted childhood playmate, now-grown Prince William (Sam Claflin). Culminating in the climactic battle between Snow - as armored Joan of Arc-type warrior - and the obsessively jealous Queen, there's no doubt who emerges victorious.
Superficially scripted by Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini and eye-catchingly helmed by British TV commercial director Rupert Sanders, it's filled with fanciful creature creations, opulent production values and brutal, bloody violence. Charlize Theron ("Monster") delivers a ferociously powerful performance, although Kristen Stewart ("Twilight") seems too mousy to embody the "fairest" damsel, destined to inspire armies and heal the medieval realm.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Snow White and the Huntsman" is a seriously sumptuous, savage 6, idiosyncratically modernizing the alabaster-skinned, ruby-lipped feminist heroine.