Snow White and the Huntsman as reviewed in The Phantom Tollbooth.A retelling of a classic for grown-ups. The way the Grimm Brothers meant it to be.

Finally there is a fairy tale film that adults can sink their teeth into. Yet it stays very true to the original story and concept. Snow White and the Huntsman is as dark and gritty as I am sure the Brothers Grimm originally intended it to be. There have been many kid versions over the years and each with a bit of quirky humor and slightly evil characters. But this one actually pushes the envelope of psychotic queens, abandoned heroines, and vagabond dwarves.

We all know the story well. Snow White's (Kristen Stewart) evil step mother (Charlize Theron) seduces and kills the king, locks Snow away in the castle, and allows the kingdom to waste away to desolation. Snow finally escapes and rallies a band of dwarves, and in this case a tracker named "The Huntsman" (Chris Hemsworth), to help her take back her rightful throne from the evil queen. Along the way they face demented trolls, travel through an enchanted forest, and meet some spritely fairies.

Theron takes the evil queen role to a place that is superior to all that have come before her. In the past we have seen many evil characters that we can boo at or love to hate. But Theron adds a dash of psychotic that makes her not only evil but ferociously unstable. She gets a look in her eye and a temperament in her voice that lets you know that evil is an understatement for what is going on here. This transports the role from the run of the mill fairy tale and gives it validity. As with all successful psychopaths, she does it with such subtlety and without ever seeming to lose control. She is violent but always aware of where she is.

Many say that Stewart is a one note horn and that she rarely strays from the sullen Bella character we see in the Twilight franchise. This film will certainly help this argument. It isn't that she doesn't make a good Snow White, but she just gives us what we always get. Quiet, moody, frail, indecisive, the world is against me waif. Luckily she doesn't have to act a lot here. She gives a rally speech near the end that you hold your breath and hope she gets through. That is sad because if you have seen any of her less popular work (The Runwaways) you know that she is a strong and capable actress. But possibly the Twilight franchise has ruined her forever.

The addition of The Huntsman was a good choice too. We are all aware of the Seven Dwarves and they are brought to life here nicely. But it helps to have the traditional handsome prince be portrayed more as a drunken ruffian. This makes the time period and the state of the union more authentic. Hemsworth looks just as macho with a sword as he does a hammer. He is a manly man and there is little stretch for him here, but he does a worthy job.

Director Rupert Sanders does a fantastic job of melding all the personality traits into an adult version of the story. This movie has the same feel from past epics like Lord of the Rings. The kingdom is highly oppressed and the bleak darkness of the surroundings and the tone of the characters solidify that. There are many scenes of the band of warriors trudging through cold, muddy wastelands. This helps the viewer understand how important it is for Snow to take back the kingdom. There is no life without her.

The effects are also top notch. There is much sorcery and magic in this one and the creation of apparitions and other world warriors add to the adventure. There are a few moments when the green screen is apparent but for the most part it is believable.

Snow White and the Huntsman is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and brief sensuality. It is certainly for the 16 and older crowd due to the violence and dark spirit about it. The language is no concern and other than the queen's sensual bathing moment, which again is very modest in comparison, there is nothing to raise alarm. Again, just be aware of the violence and fighting sequences as well as some very scary creatures. I give it 4 out of 5 lutes. One of the better retellings to hit the screen. Standout performances and memorable roles help this one succeed.

4 tocks.

Review copyright 2012 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.

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