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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Most of the movie is clouded in the queen's evil thirst for eternal youth, but there are some inspiring messages about true beauty being of the heart, as exemplified by Snow White. Snow White's loving nature is what makes her unique; she doesn't know how to lead at first, but she knows how to open her heart and care for others, and for that she's beloved as a princess and eventually a queen. Obviously the queen's nefarious plans for domination are a cautionary tale about beauty being a woman's only power, but she does pose interesting questions about how men have historically dominated women and used them for their desires.
Positive Role Models
Snow White is pure of heart and composes herself in a loving, selfless manner. Even though she has every reason to be afraid and think only of her safety, she's constantly worried about everyone in the kingdom, her good friend the duke, and his son, William. Although he's a reluctant hero, the huntsman rises to the occasion to defend and protect Snow White, and he even grows to care for her -- thinking of someone else for the first time in years -- as they travel together throughout the kingdom. William is an active hero; he jumps at the opportunity to rescue Snow White the moment he learns she's alive and in danger. The queen is clearly evil and not meant to be seen as a role model.
Violence & Scariness
This is a dark and violent story with a high body count. The queen kills scores of people and tortures others by literally sucking their youth out of them so she can magically remain young. She eats birds' hearts (the scene in which she plucks a bloody bird's heart out of its body is a particularly gruesome moment) and can kill in many different ways -- without ever spilling blood. There are battles between phantom armies and the king's army, and then Ravenna's army defeats the king's army and is said to have murdered everyone left in the castle. The queen's creepy brother admits that he has stared at Snow White and then basically attempts to rape her (he gets on top of her forcefully, but she injures him and escapes). Various groups of the Queen's army fight Snow White, the huntsman, and the duke with axes, swords, and arrows. The dark forest is full of frightening creatures that can poison or maim.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The queen exudes sexuality in nearly every scene. She wears form-fitting gowns and is shown nude descending into a milk bath; her naked lower back is on display several times. The wedding night between the queen and the king isn't graphic, but he's on top of her in bed, kissing and caressing her (until things take a violent turn). Snow White gets a couple of kisses.
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Language includes "hell," "damn," and "stupid."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adult characters drink, and a couple of them get drunk (the huntsman in particular is known as a big drinker). The dwarfs all have a few too many, and then one makes a joke about feeling "lovely" because of the "mushrooms" in a fairy forest.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.