Snow White and the Huntsman puts a gritty spin on a classic fairy tale

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      Starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, and Charlize Theron. Rated PG. Now playing

      There are some important observations to be made watching Snow White and the Huntsman. First, we already know that everything bad in the world is the fault of men, but in this case a few too many heartbreaking, sexist jerks have made the evil queen so wrathful she wants to eat Snow White’s heart. Or at least snack a bit. Second, yes, the queen’s aging issues could be addressed with Botox, but then the movie wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining. Third, there are eight dwarves. Huh? (None are named Dopey or Happy, but I swear magic mushrooms are mentioned.)

      This Snow isn’t kiddie-friendly like Uncle Walt’s or campy like the recent Mirror Mirror. It’s fairy tale mashed with Lord of the Rings, Joan of Arc, and that scary dream you have where you’re running through a creepy forest. It’s brutal, menacing, and medieval, with some pretty awesome effects, plus strange yet supercute fairies.

      Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) has stepdaughter Snow White (Kristen Stewart) locked up for years, until Snow escapes into the wilds. This is bad for Ravenna but good for us because Theron is fantastically bonkers, sucking the youth out of maidens, swirling about in flocks of ravens, and staring into her molten-gold mirror like a depraved yet strangely sympathetic old supermodel. Charlize, no one’s prettier than you, honest.

      Um, except for Chris Hemsworth. He’s also prettily soulful as the hunky, hard-drinking widower huntsman sent to snag Snow. The two embark on a kind of Tolkien-epic dark adventure. And those eight little dudes? They’re played by charismatic big dudes like Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, and Eddie Marsan. Cool and freaky—and cockney!

      First-time feature director Rupert Sanders has made something mesmerizing, rather serious, and almost great. Stewart, no girly-girl, casts her own spell as an awkwardly real, reimagined Snow. Integrity and the power of good beat blond-goddess beauty any day, right? Right?

      Watch the trailer for Snow White and the Huntsman.