"Magic comes at a lofty price."
-Finn, brother of evil Queen Ravenna
Akin to "more cowbell", was there some public outcry for "more Snow White"? It wasn't on my top 500 list of most wanted. Yet the 2012 release of two cinematic versions of this classic fairy tale—Mirror, Mirror and Snow White & the Huntsman—have offered an unexpectedly lovely synchronisity of "contrast and compare". They are both delightful to watch and beautiful to behold, yet vastly different.
In this darkly textured version of the tale, Charlize Theron is mesmerizing and fierce as the wicked Queen Ravenna, and Kristen Stewart brings an equal ferocity to the innocence of Snow White. Ravenna charms the king, Snow White's father, into a one-day courtship and slays him on their wedding night—then wreaks havoc on the kingdom as she remakes it in her own image. Snow White, after being held hostage for years, manages her escape into the dark forest. The queen sends the huntsman (hunky Chris Hemsworth, best known for his recurring role as Thor) to retrieve Snow White, but he ultimately defies Ravenna and becomes an ally in reclaiming the kingdom.
As Snow White rallies an army, she takes on the mantle of Joan of Arc and delivers a speech worthy of Band of Brothers. Thousand-watt action zings throughout the movie (both Stewart and Theron sustained injuries during filming), and the romantic subplots are also electric. Stunning special effects are worthy of the nomination. While costuming is exquisite in a forboding kind of way, it pales next to the dazzling threads of Mirror, Mirror (also nominated for Best Costume Design).