A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Snow White and the Huntsman isn't the sweet and colorful fairy tale that's depicted in other adaptations: This is a very dark, violent, moody story with a lot of death and mature themes. Charlize Theron's queen is more than evil; she's sadistic and vain and will kill or torture anyone in order to keep her magically eternal youth and beauty (a scene in which she plucks a bloody bird’s heart out of its body and eats is particularly gruesome). The body count is quite high -- usually in hand-to-hand battles -- as is the number of people the queen magically robs of their youth (or life). Although there are a couple of kisses, this Snow White (played by Twilight's Kristen Stewart) isn't preoccupied with romance but rather with saving a kingdom from its tyrannical ruler.
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What's the story?
In this reimagining of Snow White, the beautiful young princess is imprisoned after the forever-young Ravenna (Charlize Theron) seduces, marries, and then murders the king (Cary Elwes). When the magic mirror informs the queen that the Fairest of Them All is now Snow White, who has come of age (Kristen Stewart), Ravenna sends her brother to kill the princess, but the girl manages to escape into the Dark Forest. Ravenna angrily summons a disillusioned huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to capture Snow White -- but at the last moment, he joins forces with her to evade the queen's guards. The two embark on a journey that eventually leads her to her beloved childhood friend, the duke's brave son, William (Sam Claflin), and seven fierce dwarfs -- all of whom are ready to take arms against the queen.
Is it any good?
SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN is a visual wonder: It begins and ends with a vibrant palette, but the bulk of the movie, like the story, is clouded in the somber mood the queen casts over the kingdom. The cinematography is lush, and the landscapes -- especially the fantastically creepy Dark Forest -- are memorable. And like Tim Burton's finest, this is a film where costume plays a significant role. Academy Award-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood's creations are amazing, especially Ravenna's elaborate gowns, which range from a royal wedding dress to a feathery black frock made up of crows. Even the seven dwarfs (all of whom are deliciously played by famous English character actors like Ian McShane, Ray Stevenson, Nick Frost, and Bob Hoskins) are outfitted in memorable gear.
Theron isn't just gorgeous; she's a gifted actress capable of eliciting fear or desire just as easily. A former model, she can say a great deal with just the straightening of her back or an icy scowl. Stewart is a divisive performer (some critics think she perpetually looks bored), but she pulls off the pure and fair of heart Snow quite well. As for Hemsworth, he was born to play epic heroes. But while the movie is well acted and a marvel for the eyes, it's also overlong and delves into one too many subplots that aren't properly resolved. One of the most central, obviously, is whether Snow White's destined love is her lifelong friend William or the rogue huntsman. It's refreshing that the romance isn't the movie's central preoccupation, but by the end it's clear that there would need to be a sequel just to figure out who's to be her consort -- not to mention address the substantive issues of how a leader can heal a land so broken by years of ruin.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this depiction of the Snow White story is different than Disney's Snow White, Mirror Mirror, or other adaptations of the fairy tale. Which do you think is truest to the original story?
Although this movie is about a fairy tale, it's not really aimed at younger fans of Snow White. Is it appropriate for a Snow White adaptation to be so violent?
Talk about the movie's messages about beauty. What traits are described as beautiful in the movie? Does this movie maintain the original story's message about beauty, or is it different? Is this a feminist movie, or not?
- In theaters: June 1, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: September 11, 2012
- Cast: Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Stewart
- Director: Rupert Sanders
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Great Girl Role Models
- Run time: 127 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of violence and action, and brief sensuality
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.