I liked “Mirror Mirror” because of its tongue-in-cheek humor. I like “Snow White and the Huntsman” because it’s, well — forgive me — so grim. Director Rupert Sanders is big on visuals. They’re quite a treat, whether they are towering trolls, a dark, haunted forest or a brilliant, magical land.
The story stays more true to the original fairy tale than many other tellings. Ravella (Charlize Theron) arrives as a prisoner in the land where Snow White’s father is king. The king, still mourning his late wife, falls for the beautiful stranger and marries her. Turns out that wasn’t a wise move: Queen Ravella dispenses at once with her new husband and brings in her dark army and her brother to rule the land.
She imprisons Snow White (Kristen Stewart) in a castle tower. As Snow White grows up, the queen becomes more insane with power and the desire to remain young, which she does in a very unseemly fashion by preying upon her subjects.
Snow White escapes into the Dark Forest, but she meets obstacle after obstacle there. The queen and her brother Finn (Sam Spruell) secure a huntsman (Chris Hemsworth, “Thor”), who agrees to pursue Snow White. He finds her, but then sets out to deliver her to a safe haven. First, though, they have to get through the Dark Forest and past a menacing troll, and, yes, a group of dwarves as well as Finn and his troops.
A more evil queen you never will see, and Theron plays it to the hilt, giving it her psychotic utmost. (There’s a dash of “Monster” here along with a pinch of “Young Adult.”)
Hemsworth is entertaining as the huntsman, although his accent, which is heard often in narration, annoyed me. I’m not sure exactly what the accent is supposed to be. More coaching would have been a good idea.
The movie makes wonderful use of computer-generated imagery. I’d love to see again the beautiful enchanted land where fairies ride rabbits and those around Snow White realize the power of her goodness. And it’s interesting to see actors such as Ian McShane and Harry Winstone reduced convincingly in size as two of the dwarves.
It’s disturbing, dark entertainment. You won’t be whistling when you leave, that’s for sure.
'SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSMAN'
Running time: Two hours and five minutes
Rated: PG-13 for violence and foul language