A good yarn but perhaps not the fairest of them all
Originality is a scant resource in Hollywood, which probably accounts for two re-workings of Snow White in almost as many months.
While Mirror, Mirror put a broad comedic spin on the Brothers Grimm fairytale, Rupert Sanders' sweeping fantasy is a much darker affair.
The opening half-hour barely features the eponymous heroine, who we are told by the voiceover narration "was adored throughout the kingdom as much for her defiant spirit as her beauty".
Instead, the script initially focuses on the slinky villainess played with an icy glare by Charlize Theron, whose quest to be the fairest of them all wrenches apart a previously peaceful kingdom.
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Humour is fleeting, so it's left to the gung-ho dwarves to inject welcome comic relief at the film's mid-way point, using their diminutive stature to their advantage in the well-orchestrated battle sequences.
Theron slinks with intent as scheming sorceress Ravenna, who seizes the throne by killing her husband King Magnus (Noah Huntley) shortly after their wedding.
The queen incarcerates Snow White (Kristen Stewart) in the north tower and plans to attain eternal youth by ripping out her stepdaughter's beating heart. Thankfully, the plucky heroine escapes the dungeon and the clutches of Ravenna's slimy brother Finn (Sam Spruell), and heads into the aptly named Dark Forest.
Ravenna's magic holds no sway in this enclave so she hires a Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to track down Snow White and deliver the girl to her doom.
However, he too falls under the escapee's spell and agrees to help Snow White overthrow Ravenna.
Snow White And The Huntsman is a well-crafted yarn that overstays its welcome.
The scriptwriters nod to the Brothers Grimm throughout, galloping towards the anticipated happy ever after without completely undermining the central message of female empowerment in a world dominated by hairy men.