If there's one thing I like to see during the summer, it's a beautiful queen get really mad, scream a lot, and then turn into a murder of crows so she can go murder her competition in the "fairest" department. My enjoyment of this film is pretty simple. It was easy to toss aside the ageism and what the movie does and doesn't do for feminism because it has a lot of fun action scenes set among amazing set pieces and CG.
Snow White (Kristen Stewart) gets a makeover in this version as the perfect balance of femininity--she can pacify rampaging trolls with her compassion-filled eyes and storm a castle with armor and weaponry, which sounds pretty much like my Monday mornings. She is tormented by the evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron), who uses witchy tricks to better her position in life--including killing Snow's father, the king, and locking Snow in the tower so her creepy brother (Sam Spruell) can stare at her. Eventually Snow becomes hotter than Ravenna and escapes the tower, so Ravenna hires a hit man, the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth). But no one can resist Snow White, especially with her bow-hunting skills.
This facelift to the classic is brutal, magical and chock full of bonkers. Charlize Theron doing crazy is almost as good as Faye Dunaway yelling "No wire hangers!" She murders men, takes their riches, sucks out the souls of young women to remain supple and attractive to her next victim, and then she takes a milk bath. But Theron playing a villain has gotten her an Oscar in the past because she has compassion for how broken someone has to be in order to commit such atrocities. It adds a nice layer underneath all the wide-eyed, beckoning-finger nastiness. I wanted to give her a Valium and then try on all her jewelry. No other characters get anything resembling depth, but their swordplay is on point, so that's all that matters.
Although its 127 minute run time is a little long, there's plenty to drink in visually if you're bored with Chris Hemsworth swinging around an axe instead of a hammer. The mirror on the wall slithers like mercury escaped from a thermometer, and the Queen's evil goons splinter into homicidal coal shards. The vast, lush world of the film recalls The Lord of the Rings. And finally, we get an explanation as to why the Dark Forest is so darn scary. That, combined with a glorious enchanted forest filled with white stags and fairies, pushes away that erstwhile image of the girl singing into a well and waiting for someone to save her.