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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Snow White and the Huntsman

By
Joseph McAleer
Source: Catholic News Service

The "Fairest One of All" morphs into a butt-kicking warrior princess in "Snow White and the Huntsman" (Universal), the latest and darkest take yet on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale first published 200 years ago.

In a sharp contrast to spring's campy comedy "Mirror Mirror," first-time director Rupert Sanders colors the classic good-vs.-evil fable with splashes of gothic horror and extreme violence, which make this rather grim (no pun intended) film unsuitable for young children. The battle scenes in this action-adventure would not look out of place in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy—nor would the religious imagery, unusual for a Hollywood blockbuster.

This time around, instead of Julia Roberts we have Charlize Theron who chews up the scenery as the wicked Queen Ravenna. A master of sorcery who commands a phantom army, she seduces and marries King Magnus (Noah Huntley), then slays him and takes his throne, forcing his happy kingdom into painful submission.

It's only a matter of time before that Magic Mirror warns the Queen of someone fairer, her stepdaughter Snow White (Kristen Stewart of "Twilight" fame), imprisoned in the tower.

Not so fast. Snow White fervently prays the Our Father as she awaits her chance to escape. It comes, and with the help of a conveniently appearing white horse, she flees to the forest.

"After her!" the Queen commands the big lug of a Huntsman, Eric (Chris Hemsworth). He complies, only to later take pity on the fugitive and spare her life.

It is here that the screenplay, by Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock ("The Blind Side") and Hossein Amini ("Drive") veers even further away from the traditional fairy tale. The erstwhile assassin joins forces with the princess and skills her in swordplay and the art of war. Then the dynamic duo sets off in search of an army to vanquish the Queen and reclaim the kingdom.

Along the way, they run into the dwarfs, all eight of them (another change), headed by Beith (Ian McShane). Intriguingly, they are played by men who are not vertically challenged in real life, but transformed by movie magic. They live in the Sanctuary, an enchanted part of the forest filled with fairies and magical creatures.

Skilled as gold miners, the dwarfs possess a special gift: They can see light in the darkness. In Snow White they see light, a kind of messiah, a point confirmed by the appearance of the White Hart, an albino stag that kneels before her and offers his "blessing."

"She's the one," says Muir (Bob Hoskins), the blind spiritual leader of the dwarfs. "She will heal her kind."

As Snow White dons her shiny armor and finds her inner Joan of Arc, "Snow White and the Huntsman" barrels towards a climactic battle royal.

At this point, you may be wondering: Where's the handsome Prince (Sam Clafin)? In this film, he's called William, is a duke and arrives late in the game. He's still madly in love with Snow White (they were childhood pals), but she seems only to have eyes for the Huntsman.

In the end, "Snow White and the Huntsman" is an entertaining romp with a strong sense of right and wrong. Parents should be warned that the film's dark tone and excessive bloodshed could be nightmare-inducing for the younger set.

The film contains intense action violence and brutality, scenes of sorcery, and some mild sensuality. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

****
Joseph McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Alphonsus Liguori: 
		<p>Moral theology, Vatican II said, should be more thoroughly nourished by Scripture, and show the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world. Alphonsus, declared patron of moral theologians by Pius XII in 1950, would rejoice in that statement.</p>
		<p>In his day, Alphonsus fought for the liberation of moral theology from the rigidity of Jansenism. His moral theology, which went through 60 editions in the century following him, concentrated on the practical and concrete problems of pastors and confessors. If a certain legalism and minimalism crept into moral theology, it should not be attributed to this model of moderation and gentleness.</p>
		<p>At the University of Naples he received, at the age of 16, a doctorate in both canon and civil law by acclamation, but he soon gave up the practice of law for apostolic activity. He was ordained a priest and concentrated his pastoral efforts on popular (parish) missions, hearing confessions, forming Christian groups. </p>
		<p>He founded the Redemptorist congregation in 1732. It was an association of priests and brothers living a common life, dedicated to the imitation of Christ, and working mainly in popular missions for peasants in rural areas. Almost as an omen of what was to come later, he found himself deserted, after a while, by all his original companions except one lay brother. But the congregation managed to survive and was formally approved 17 years later, though its troubles were not over. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus’ great pastoral reforms were in the pulpit and confessional—replacing the pompous oratory of the time with simplicity, and the rigorism of Jansenism with kindness. His great fame as a writer has somewhat eclipsed the fact that for 26 years he traveled up and down the Kingdom of Naples, preaching popular missions. </p>
		<p>He was made bishop (after trying to reject the honor) at 66 and at once instituted a thorough reform of his diocese. </p>
		<p>His greatest sorrow came toward the end of his life. The Redemptorists, precariously continuing after the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, had difficulty in getting their Rule approved by the Kingdom of Naples. Alphonsus acceded to the condition that they possess no property in common, but a royal official, with the connivance of a high Redemptorist official, changed the Rule substantially. Alphonsus, old, crippled and with very bad sight, signed the document, unaware that he had been betrayed. The Redemptorists in the Papal States then put themselves under the pope, who withdrew those in Naples from the jurisdiction of Alphonsus. It was only after his death that the branches were united. </p>
		<p>At 71 he was afflicted with rheumatic pains which left incurable bending of his neck; until it was straightened a little, the pressure of his chin caused a raw wound on his chest. He suffered a final 18 months of “dark night” scruples, fears, temptations against every article of faith and every virtue, interspersed with intervals of light and relief, when ecstasies were frequent. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus is best known for his moral theology, but he also wrote well in the field of spiritual and dogmatic theology. His <i>Glories of Mary</i> is one of the great works on that subject, and his book <i>Visits to the Blessed Sacrament</i> went through 40 editions in his lifetime, greatly influencing the practice of this devotion in the Church.</p> American Catholic Blog Those who want to participate more fully in salvation history are comforted by the fact that Jesus wants to walk with us in our suffering and wants to break bread to give us strength on our way.

 
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