If any film is going to make a case for rehashing a well-worn story, it's this one. Rupert Sanders' vivid rendition of the "Snow White" fairy tale not only brings something modern to the table (reimagining Snow White as a warrior) but also provides rich layers of characterization to the bad guy, which is something most evil witches and queens don't get to enjoy.

 

As Queen Ravenna, whose powers come only from her beauty (and the beauty of young girls she extracts it from), Charlize Theron is enjoyably wicked. Only occasionally does her deathly howl veer over to campy overacting. Can we forgive the woman? She won an Oscar. And Kristen Stewart? We thought it was suspect that she wasn't shown speaking in a single trailer for the film -- maybe they were trying to hide her poor performance -- but Stewart managed to abandon her normal squirmy lip-biting self in order to pull off British accent lite and show some measure of poise.

 

The loving attention to detail is obvious in the art direction, which is really what elevates this film above the usual hack job blockbusters we see this time of year. Everything, from Queen Ravenna's beetle dress to the spooky creatures of the Dark Forest, is so gorgeously intricate that you can't help but be in awe. Not since "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy have we seen a fantasy world so beautifully complete.

 

'Snow White and the Huntsman'

Director: Rupert Sanders

Cast: Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth

Rating: PG-13

Grade: 4/5