| May 29, 2012

My ratings system is simple: Is it worthy of a date night out at the movies? Blu-ray? Or is it just a bust?

This is not Disney's “Snow White.” There is no cooking, no cleaning and no caring for the dwarves. In this version of “Snow White,” our fairytale princess is a full-blown heroine!

From the start, you're in for an epic adventure. The opening minutes of the movie feature a breathtaking battle between the troops of the King (Snow White's father) and the Dark Army, conjuring up memories of the early battle in the woods from “Gladiator.” The entire movie feels big in this way — scenes are visually riveting, evoking films like “The Last of the Mohicans,” “The Lord of the Rings” and “Avatar.” Add in some cool creatures, stunning special effects and a sprinkle of fairy dust, and you've got a full-fledged fantasy world brought to the big screen.

The storyline follows the 1812 “Brothers Grimm” version of the tale, painting a dark, dying and ominous world. The evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) rules supreme, while poor Snow White (Kristen Stewart) remains locked in the tower, living out her days in solitary confinement. All is well for the Queen, until one day when she asks a simple question: "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is fairest of them all?"

When the answer is “Snow White,” all bets are off. Snow White makes a daring escape, the Huntsman is hired to track her down, and the adventure truly begins! So how did Hollywood do in breathing life into these fairy tale characters?

The Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth): A widower with not much left to lose, our huntsman appears to be anything but a hero … at first. In a world of magic and wonder, Hemsworth does a great job making the Huntsman human; he's got no super strength or speed, he's just struggling to find his way and do what's right. Plus, he’s pretty good with an ax.

Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron): Evil? Check. Beautiful? Check. Amazing performance? Ahhh … something is off. Perhaps it’s her inconsistent British accent? In one truly unfortunate moment, her breakout dramatic scene drew snickers from the crowd. Ouch.

The Dwarves (Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins and Ray Winstone, to name a few): These are little guys with big hearts! The dwarves are played by some of today’s biggest stars, and the special effects team did an impressive job shrinking them down to size.

Snow White (Kristen Stewart): “Lips red as blood, hair black as night, bring me your heart, my dear, dear Snow White.” Casting Kristen Stewart was clearly done to attract the “Twilight” crowd, but I was worried Bella Swan would suck this movie dry. I was wrong. No biting her lip, no breaking eye contact and no nervous ticks. In her opening lines, she recites the Lord’s Prayer in an eerie whisper … and it gets your attention! Her accent does disappear in one scene only to return in the next, but for the most part, Stewart delivers a solid performance and certainly looks the part with her ethereal beauty. By the final scene, I wondered who else in Hollywood could have played the character. No one.

Overall, “Snow White” is dark and dangerous with charm and wonder, but it does feel a touch long. There is little romance or levity to break up the doom and gloom of the task at hand, but this film has imagination, technical brilliance and solid performances. Oh, and keep an eye out for the fairies; they drew oohs and ahhs from the audience.

The Date Nighter Says: Do it. It's a theater movie for sure, based on the visual experience alone. Bella Swan and Thor (Stewart and Hemsworth) will help "Snow White" make box office magic.