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Snow White and the Huntsman

Mirror mirror on the wall, I prefer the wicked queen after all

In this latest adaptation of the classic fairy tale, Raffey Cassidy plays Snow White and Chris Hemsworth plays her pursuer-turned protector. <<© Universal Studios>>

Once upon a time in a magical kingdom there lived a beautiful princess. Young Snow White (Raffey Cassidy: Dark Shadows) was so good, innocent and pure that the townspeople loved her even though she wasn’t very interesting. Luckily, wicked queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron: Young Adult) showed up to seduce the king and lock the boring princess away in a tower.
    Ravenna is more dynamic than Snow, but she lacks leadership abilities. The earth turns to ash, the kingdom starves and the people rebel. Ravenna is untroubled, since her magical gifts allow her to remain invulnerable to attack and forever beautiful — as long as she sucks the life force from nubile girls.
    It’s a little more extreme than botox, but it works like a charm.
    Every day, Ravenna consults her magic mirror. As long as she stays beautiful, Ravenna remains powerful. When the mirror tells her that 18-year-old Snow White (Kristen Stewart: Twilight) has become the fairest of them all, Ravenna plans to kill her rival and eat her heart.
    But Snow White escapes to the dark woods, which kill all who enter. So Ravenna has her goons find the only man who’s survived the forest: The Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth: The Avengers).
    A drunken widower, the Huntsman reluctantly agrees to chase a young girl into the woods and return her to the queen. However, when he meets Snow, he can’t bring himself to harm her.
    Instead, The Huntsman volunteers to be Snow’s protector, lead her through enchanted forests and help her raise an army to fight Ravenna. Along the way, they touch on all the hallmarks of the classic tale: dwarves, apples and happily ever after.  
    The true beauty of Snow White and the Huntsman is its art design. Dark forests and fairy glens are layered with visual delights, from serpentine branches to moss-covered tortoises. First-time director Rupert Sanders takes care to craft an enchanted world that draws from anime, classic fairy tales and Disney movies. The mix of touchstones makes the fantastical world familiar and even plausible.
    The film’s greatest asset, Theron, is also its core flaw: Her Ravenna is infinitely more interesting and amusing than our fair princess. Theron bellows orders and swans around her obsidian lair in designer gowns, while Snow is as colorless as her name.
    This isn’t entirely Stewart’s fault. Snow isn’t allowed to get interesting until the film’s climactic battle, where she displays the guts and grit that had been absent for most of the movie.
    Even Hemsworth as a drunken lout with a heart of gold is more interesting than Snow. He is building a great career as an all-purpose hunk with charisma as big as his physique.
    The big problem is story. Fairy tale themes have been hits, but writers Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini don’t know when to stop.
    If writers had dieted the bloated story down to a more manageable 90 minutes, Snow White could have rested on its glorious visuals. As is, it’s a beautiful film with a wonderful villain. Long live the queen.

Good Fairy Tale • PG-13 • 127 mins.