Movies for Kids and Adults: Snow White and the Huntsman

Who doesn’t love an evil queen? From the real-life rotten royalty a la Elizabeth Bathory or Catherine de Medici, to those of the fictional sort, all these lethal ladies are missing is a mustache to twist. But most do have a talisman, and in the case of Snow White and the Huntsman, Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) has her magic mirror.

Snow White and the Huntsman

2012, PG-13

In this retelling of the classic tale, King Magnus grieves the passing of his wife while fighting dark enemy invaders. Having rescued a beautiful prisoner, Ravenna, he marries her only to have her show her gratitude with a knife to his heart. With King Magnus out of the picture, Ravenna wreaks havoc, gathering up her own dark army, and banishing Snow White to the dreaded doom of damsels: she is imprisoned in the castle’s tower.

Now, not only a queen, but entirely a witch, Ravenna feasts on the youth of pretty little maidens to safeguard her own beauty. Until, that is, the Magic Mirror lets her know that through Snow White she can achieve complete immortality.

Enter the titular Huntsman ordered to capture the maiden. But once he gets his hands on the young beauty, the Queen’s minion becomes the girl’s protector.

The mirror is a bit different in this retelling of the tale — it’s kind of a molten blob which can take on a myriad of shapes — as are quite a few of the other conventions we know and love. While Snow White & the Hunstman is definitely not your run of the mill fluff-fairytale (menacing monsters, murder, mayhem, black magic… all in a PG13 milieu), it’s also well-made and finely acted. Theron is the standout, by far. Kristen Stewart, as Snow White, is her usual stilted self, while Chris Hemsworth plays the Huntsman as a bit of a buffoon (but a likeable one, at least). The monsters and creatures are impressive: there are animate trees, supernatural bats, bloody birdies whose hearts are the queen’s morsels, gigantic trolls, skulking spirits, and more. CGI is not too obtrusive, given the obligatory nature of such things in spectacle films these days.

I was most impressed by the makeup (beauty, and otherwise) and the costumes. Ravenna’s regal rags are resplendent to say the least. My favorite frock is black with metal chains, sports a corset of snakes, and is topped by a crown of bones and thorns. At the fur-lined collar is a row of tiny sparrow skulls. While that last element might seem a bit extreme, it actually takes a cue from history (taxidermy as fashion is nothing new).

Also interesting is the political element. While it’s not entirely clear what happens to the evil queen in the fairytale, here you have a full-blown uprising with Snow White at the head of the revolutionary army and dwarves in arms. I think that’s one of the elements that makes this fairytale just as entertaining for adults as for the little ones – there’s an amazing attention to detail and fact. While you take that in, your kids are enjoying the adventure.

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Lindsey Velasco
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