(Epic action-adventure, PG-13, 127 minutes)
If your memory of “Snow White” consists of a soft-spoken girl with seven bubbly little people filled with song, then be prepared for a major upgrade with “Snow White and the Huntsman.” Kristen Stewart (“Twilight”) plays the title character, but she is no match for Oscar-winner Charlize Theron’s (“Monster,” “Young Adult”) portrayal as the Ravenna, her evil stepmother.
This movie captures the essence of the original story but adds a more ominous side to it. Snow White was born as a pure girl with unmatched beauty. Her mother longed for a child, but would not live long to see her daughter grow up. Snow White’s father, King Magnus (Noah Huntley), is aroused from his grief — and eventually perishes — through Ravenna’s trickery.
The new queen’s evil spirit spreads poison through the kingdom, and her black heart causes much suffering. She is obsessed with aging, so much that people lose their lives over her constant quest for youth.
Although the people in the kingdom believe the princess is dead, Snow White has been locked in a tower at the castle — until she manages to escape. Enraged, Ravenna orders her return because she know the true cost of losing her.
A huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) is tasked to bring her back. He is a widower, as well as a drunkard and a brute. Although he starts as her enemy, the huntsman ends up as her ally as Snow White turns into a heroine for her people.
Much like her character taking over the kingdom, Theron takes over this film. Stewart is underwhelming through most of the film, aside from her amazing ability to make her bottom lip quiver repeatedly. When she finally becomes more alive on screen, it’s almost too late.
I won’t say audiences will root for the evil Ravenna, but they will probably want to see much more of her on screen. Her portrayal as the queen can best be described as maniacal, but she is captivating.
In this film and two others, Theron fully embraces the essence of her characters, no matter how despicable they are. She won an Oscar for “Monster,” playing Aileen Wuornos, a serial killer. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for “Young Adult” in which she played Mavis, was a successful author who was immature, rude and disgusting. Ravenna is unapologetically evil. If you have seen these films, you know how truly captivating Theron is. You just can’t take your eyes off her.
The visual effects in the film are just as astounding. Branches in the Dark Forest turn into venomous snakes. A bridge is transformed into a giant, vicious troll. The classic “mirror, mirror on the wall” is transformed into something much more than a magical adornment.
Colleen Atwood is the Oscar-winning costume designer for “Snow White and The Huntsman.” According to an article written by AP Writer Sandy Cohen, Atwood’s most recent Oscar was for “Alice in Wonderland” and she also designed for Tim Burton’s latest film, “Dark Shadows.”
Ravenna’s pieces are the most stunning. Atwood used items such as beetles wings and hand-cut rooster feathers to create her garb. Snow White’s costume isn’t as elaborate, but look closely for remnants of the Walt Disney version.
But don’t rush to bring small children — this isn’t a family-friendly version, by far. Adhere to the PG-13 rating, and let the little ones stick with the singing dwarves.
However, not all is lost. Even with computer animation, the story of a girl, an evil queen and that apple is still there, along with more memorable characters. Too bad the queen steals the show.