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Review: Once Upon A Time (Snow White and the Huntsman)

The story of Snow White is quite familiar to audiences: a fair-skinned princess is forced to fend for herself and her kingdom after the untimely death of the King and Queen. A huntsman is hired by the wicked usurper to kill the young maiden and she retreats to the forest. What lends initial promise to Rupert Sanders Snow White and the Huntsman is that the pieces of the story are thrown at the wall from the very beginning.

Ravenna (Charlize Theron) is much more than a witch who longs for the power of a Kingdom. Gaining the trust of the King, Ravenna poses as victim of a kidnapping. Once inside the hallowed walls of King Magnus' home, she violently overthrows the monarchy. Hours after a wedding ceremony, Ravenna takes her revenge on the more arrogant sex in the most intimate way. Her crazed rantings about the evils of entitlement suggests that Huntsman really could go somewhere rather than take the formulaic path of fable. Locked in the innards of the castle, Snow (Kristen Stewart) has been plotting her escape for years and, when given her chance, she takes it. Into the fearsome forest she goes.

Dozens of young girls have died to feed the evil Queen's addiction to youth, but only the heart of Snow White will sate Ravenna's thirst. She hires a drunken widower (under-utilized Chris Hemsworth) who serves all masters with his trade. Only he will enter the dangerous forest that Snow has escaped to.

A lush film visually, the gothic sets and cinematography suggests that Snow White and the Huntsman is a much better product than it actually is. For all of the differing takes that Sander's film takes, the story comes back to what has been seen before time and time again. When Hemsworth's Huntsman tries to teach Snow how to kill her opponent, she balks at his suggestion. Sixty minutes later she is aping Aragorn from Lord of the Rings, slashing, hacking and dismembering anyone who gets in her way of killing the Queen. Other distractions seem thrown in just for measure like a love triangle that no one would seriously debate over (Chris Hemsworth > Sam Claflin).

I suppose the problem with Huntsman is that the most entertaining aspect of the film is Ravenna herself. Theron is monstrously entertaining as she yearns for immortality. The writing is lesser but she revels in each bellow and gives this film a villain that it really doesn't deserve.

**/****

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