| Snow White (Kristen Stewart from “Twilight”) transforms from a sweet, innocent young princess into a Joan of Arc heroine leading an army into battle in this deconstruction of the classic fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm.
First-time director Rupert Sanders displays a strong visual style in a dark story conceived by Evan Daugherty. The female-centered battle between good and evil should attract women of all ages, especially fans of the “Twilight” series. This action-oriented revision features medieval battle scenes and larger-than-life fantasy creatures to also lure males into the theater.
The widowed King Magnus leads a battle against an invading army. He becomes enchanted by the beauty of a woman held prisoner by this defeated rebel force. Her name is Ravenna (Charlize Theron from “Young Adult”). After a brief courtship, he marries her and she becomes queen. She has an evil streak and a hatred of men. She murders Magnus on their wedding night and takes over the throne. She incarcerates her stepdaughter Snow White in a high-towered prison cell.
Queen Ravenna is aided by her loyal brother Finn (Sam Spruell) in ruling the kingdom.
When Snow White comes of age, Ravenna learns from her Magic Mirror that she will be overthrown by her stepdaughter, who is now the “fairest of them all.” She is advised that the only way for her to keep her throne and her youthful appearance is to consume Snow White’s beating heart.
Snow White makes a daring escape and ends up in the Dark Forest. Ravenna employs The Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth from “Thor”) to bring Snow White back alive to the castle. She promises in return to bring back from the grave his deceased wife.
The Huntsman takes pity on Snow White and teaches her how to defend herself. She is reunited with her childhood friend Prince William (Sam Claflin). William is an expert with a bow and arrow and will remind audiences of Robin Hood.
The last key components of Snow White’s contingent band of revolutionaries are eight dwarves. They serve primarily as comedic relief. They are played by highly respected British thespians including Bob Hoskins, Toby Jones, Ray Winstone, Eddie Marsan and Ian McShane.
The movie gets off to a great start with Theron captivating the screen with her presence. She disappears for long stretches in a bloated middle section that takes the air out of the balloon.
Stewart conveniently has long pants under her fashionable period dress. She is saddled with simple-minded dialogue and dirty fingernails. The long trek through the Dark Forest and then the Sanctuary just seems to kill time until the final battle scene and ultimate confrontation between Snow White and Ravenna.
The movie also suffers from the lack of any romantic angle. The camera reverts to long aerial pans of the scenic United Kingdom backgrounds whenever further exposition is no longer necessary. The movie is almost salvaged in the third act when the dwarves finally make their appearance. Their accents make some of their conversations undecipherable. Better editing was needed to tighten up a lengthy running time exceeding two hours.
The movie’s strengths are the costumes, the makeup, production design and an original musical score from composer James Newton Howard (“The Hunger Games”).
Parents should be aware that there are intense sequences of violence and action. A scary giant troll, a bloody stabbing in bed and numerous deaths on the battlefield provides ample justification for the age 13 and over MPAA rating.
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"