Who knows where we misplaced the recesses of our youth: a cigar box of baseball cards or troll dolls, a toy chest of Matchbox cars or Barbies, and perhaps most importantly, our wish-preserving diaries. Unfortunately, the compromise of growing older never respects youth. What were once treasures become mere shoeboxes as we allow time to blur our dreams. In adulthood, we dismiss fairy tales and surrender their life lessons of goodness and purity.
But then along comes Snow White and the Huntsman. This is not Walt's idea of a princess-in-waiting. Instead, this is freshman director Rupert Sanders' vision of Snow, clad in armor aboard a white horse. She prepares to battle for our very souls, staking claim to a virtue still held pure by children (and the pure of heart)--a virtue we buried in our heart's back yard years ago without leaving a map for its rediscovery.
Snow White and the Huntsman is so much fun and true to its twice-told tale that audiences, anxious to embrace its fantasy, may readily dismiss how relevant its primary theme remains. In all of its technicolor wizardry (of which there is plenty), it is Ms. White's journey that truly wears the crown. A silver-screen showdown of virtue vs. vanity is a lesson for our times and has never been more wonderfully crafted. Girls of any age can look up to a lass whose compromises are few, and boys can embrace a concurrent tale of a lad whose selfishness yields to nobility.
Deep into the movie's 120 crackling minutes, Snow White and the eight dwarves (don't ask, the movie explains all), our heroine steps into a magical forest of wonders, allowing audiences the opportunity to exhale from what is up to that point a breakneck pace. A taut, engaging script crafts new elements to the backstory of a fairytale that most of us could recite by heart. Kudos to screenwriters Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini for making us care so deeply about such familiar territory.
Kristen Stewart, the sloe-eyed actress who sleepwalks through much of the Twilight series, gives her best work as Snow White. She commits to the role with a delicate balance of breathless energy and breathtaking inner beauty. I regret not giving her more credit in her previous roles. She shines as a warrior princess.
And then there is Charlize Theron, that delicious statue of a woman who, as Queen Ravenna, redefines evil beauty. As the centerpiece of Snow White's challenge, Theron's blonde beauty belies a century-old cliche of a dark-haired bitch. Theron simmers, builds to a slow boil, and in no time, cooks the skin off her rivals. This is some of the Oscar winner's best work.
Ultimately, Snow White and the Huntsman offers a cinematic treat not seen since the Harry Potter series hit its stride--style and substance wrapped into highly satisfying entertainment. Once upon a time, I loved it.