Let's cut to the chase. Snow White and the Huntsman is the freshest, best looking, and most exciting of the year's big ticket films. It outperforms The Avengers in originality, plot and character development and especially physical detail. Director Rupert Sanders infuses the Grimm fairy tale with even more grimness and darkness than even the brothers may have intended. Men (Chris Hemsworth, et al) are on the screen, but they pale between the conflict between Snow White (Kristen Stewart in a strong and tender performance) and the evil Queen Ravenna (Charlise Theron who throws herself into malevolence like a child attacks ice cream). The previews suggested that the film would be a special effects bonanza, and it is. But even more important, Snow White and the Huntsman uses these effects not only to dazzle but also to build character and conflict. The sight of Theron emerging from a magical milk bath or swirling herself into cawing ravens enforces her sense of desperation for the one thing that can keep her young, Snow White's heart.
Sanders has used a popular theme not found in Grimm. He draws from Arthurian legend, especially from John Boorman's splendid Excalibur, which emphasized the idea that the king (this time the princess to be queen) is the land and the land is the king (queen). Boorman has a famous sequence where Britain and the land have died until Arthur has had a vision of the Grail and rides forth with his knights for his final battle. As they ride forth, the barren landscape breaks forth in foilage and flora to triumphant music from Carmenia Burana. Snow White and the Huntsman makes glorious use of this sequence with the restored Snow White and her knights thundering towards the Queen's castle and ultimate redemption. This is a film that is exciting, scary, beautiful, and inspiring. See it.