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Movie review: 'Snow White and the Huntsman'

“Snow White and the Huntsman” is a dark, stylish, sure-footed revisionist take on a classic fairy tale.
BY DENNIS KING Published: June 1, 2012

While at times the film's bleakly beautiful atmospherics — its craggy scenery and spiky arsenal of CG effects (Theron bathing in a vat of silky milk and then fracturing apart in a flock a flapping ravens) — threaten to overwhelm all else, there are a few potent performances from the cast that keep things in balance.

Clearly, Theron herself exerts a powerful counterbalance to the director's lavish obsession with surface and style. Her chilling rendering of Ravenna combines regal beauty, a heart of black ice and a soul-sucking zeal for evil that adds up to an awesome portrait of ruthlessness. It's a performance that gives the fable a kind of mythic moral heft.

For much-needed comic relief, there are the eight (yes, count 'em) mushroom-loving dwarfs — a lovably savage band that includes heavy-duty stars Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, Toby Jones and Bob Hoskins, all made diminutive via trick photography. Their uncouth antics and ragged, ruffian warmth offer some welcome respite from the film's otherwise unrelenting funereal tone.

As it wends its way inevitably, if too slowly, toward the requisite fairy-tale ending, “Snow White and the Huntsman” often makes up for what it lacks in storytelling heat with sheer visual inventiveness. Still, with its broody, moody look and fierce, elegant villainess it's a welcome yin to “Mirror Mirror's” frivolous yang.

— Dennis King