Zombos Says: Good
In Disney's groundbreaking 1937 animated version of the Snow White fairy tale, the wonderfully wicked and least kid-friendly moments take place in the Dark Forest, when the witch-queen is spellcasting, and when she plummets to her death after being chased by the rosy-cheeked dwarves. In Snow White and the Huntsman, Charlize Theron as the monomania-driven Ravenna provides splendidly wicked moments throughout, returning this Brothers Grimm story to its darker meaning of sorcery, depravity, vanity, and the lust for power. The few glimmers of romance seen flashing between Snow White (Kristen Stewart), the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) who saves her, and her childhood friend William (Sam Claflin) who blames himself for abandoning her, pale against Theron's mordsdurst for eternal beauty. If Mirror, Mirror left you with a Pop Rocks candy aftertaste, here's your chance to replace it with the bite of a mature licorice liqueur.
Ravenna seduces then kills Snow White's father, King Magnus (Noah Huntley), and imprisons her in the castle's North Tower. As Snow White grows into a fair young lady, Ravenna ravages the countryside, draining the beauty and youth from attractive female villagers to remain the fairest of all; until Snow White becomes of age that is, and the Magic Mirror warns the Queen that to remain the fairest and gain eternal beauty, she must eat Snow White's heart.
Ravenna sends her white-haired, Moe haircut-styled, brother (Sam Spruell) to fetch Snow White. He fails and Snow White takes a powder to the Dark Forest. Ominous black shrouded figures, gnarled, black shriveled trees, and creepy big black bugs galore play on her mind and she swoons, luckily landing on the one dry spot of ground in an otherwise murky nightmare of marshes and muck. Ravenna sends Eric the Huntsman to bring her back with the promise of bringing his wife back from the dead. She lies, so Eric sides with Snow White and takes her out of the Dark Forest, where they meet a small group of women who have disfigured themselves so Ravenna will leave them alone. Her brother doesn't, and Eric must quickly return to protect Snow White.
Ms. White not only enchants the Huntsman into helping her, but also the sourpuss dwarves (Mini-Me versions of Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, Toby Jones, Eddie Marsan, Johnny Harris, Nick Frost, and Brian Gleeson) who capture her and Eric. She also beguiles a bridge-watching troll, some fairies, many cute woodland creatures, adorable one-eyed mushrooms, and a majestically rendered white stag, in CGI animated scenes that harken back to Disney's hand-animated ones.
At Ravenna's "mirror, mirror, on the wall..." this Magic Mirror flows golden across the floor and forms into a tall, shrouded figure with a male voice to reassure her she's still the fairest or to give direction on how to stay the fairest. A telling moment comes when Ravenna is speaking with the golden figure as her brother watches unnoticed. He doesn't see the figure standing in front of his sister and he doesn't hear it speaking to her. I suddenly thought it's all in her mind! The mirror isn't magic. The male figure is her solace and her guilt personified.
The battle between good and evil in Snow White and the Huntsman reminded me of Ridley Scott's Legend. Although the stakes are somewhat different, Ravenna is as evil and purposeful as Legend's Lord of Darkness, and Snow White is as determined as Jack in stopping her and restoring the balance of goodness to the land. Unlike previous versions of the Snow White story, romance and housekeeping are not the priorities here, but beauty is.
Ravenna's beauty runs only as deep as her skin; Snow White's beauty runs to her soul.