A classic Grimm Brothers fairy tale undergoes an intriguing overhaul in “Snow White & the Huntsman,” a femme-centric, Gothic action thriller strewn with ravens’ feathers and dripping with blood. Disney never put that sweet princess through such muck, but director Rupert Sanders has no qualms about giving Snow White (Kristen Stewart, from the “Twilight” series) the workout of her life in a cold and forbidding forest, branches whipping against her face, her long hair twisting in the wind like a million snakes.
Sanders directed commercials before turning to film, and he certainly knows how to pile on the ambience. His 19th-century Europe (no country name is given) is a bad old place, where the wicked Queen Ravenna (played by a mesmerizing Charlize Theron) deploys an army of spear-brandishing henchmen to murder and pillage and do her bidding while the rest of the world wallows in medieval misery. Nothing like a bit of courtly power to show off a woman’s true colors.