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Of course, much of this is territory Hollywood has traveled before, always searching for nifty ways to update and revolutionize the classic fables. As for Snow White and the Huntsman, this booming, brooding and visually stunning update to the classic Brothers Grimm fable starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron is like ‘Snow White’ version 2.0 deluxe, with all the add-ons and upgrades included. One thing’s for sure, this is what they mean when they say epic storytelling. This film has it all; over the top battle scenes, mind-bending visual effects, incredibly elaborate costumes (worn by the magazine-ready Theron) and settings that let the imagination run free—no less than two magical forests, a ‘dark woods’ that is as terrifying and foreboding as the enchanted forest is delightful, colorful and fairy-filled.
Some elements have been altered—for instance, the form the evil queen takes on when offering Snow White the poisoned apple—while others, curiously, remain the same: notably, Snow White’s fragility. This is not to say that Stewart’s (often wordlessly passive) version of Snow White isn’t scrappy—she definitely knows how to take care of herself when the going gets tough. But it’s refreshing—and rather nostalgic, in a way—to see her calling desperately on the Huntsman for help, saying that she’ll die if he abandons her. Stewart has clearly been directed here to play the maiden in distress, and this ‘return to form’ to a more old-school system of fairytale gender rules is actually quite a bold move. It’s perhaps the most fascinating aspect in Snow White and the Huntsman, this seemingly intentional resistance to making the heroine a total ‘badass’ (an alteration that would seem almost mandatory today, a choice most directors would make as a matter of course). Ultimately, it succeeds in keeping this fancy-looking fairytale upgrade still very much in the realm of classic.