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This film image released by Universal Pictures shows Chris Hemsworth, left, and Kristen Stewart in a scene from "Snow White and the Huntsman". (AP Photo/Universal Pictures, Alex Bailey)

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"SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN" — ★★1/2 — Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth; PG-13 (action violence); in general release

For those familiar with the original story by the Brothers Grimm, Rupert Sanders' "Snow White and the Huntsman" is nothing like that. For those who love the 1937 Disney adaptation of the story, this movie is even less like that. For those who just like action with a taste of romance, this movie is exactly that.

Unlike Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and more true to the Grimm tale, "Huntsman" is not a happy film. It begins with a brief introduction to the good king and queen and the queen's desire to have a daughter, plus several scenes from Snow White's early childhood before the queen's death.

That's where most of the similarities to Disney's animated classic and the Brothers Grimm story end.

The grieving king is tricked into going to battle against a phantom army and "rescues" a beautiful woman named Ravenna (Charlize Theron), whom he quickly determines to marry the very next day.

No one foresees what happens next: On the night of the wedding, Ravenna drives a knife into the king's heart as they are lying in bed and then opens the gate to allow her brother and their army into the city.

In the ensuing battle, only a duke and a small number of men are able to escape. Snow White, still a little girl, is left behind.

Queen Ravenna keeps the princess imprisoned in a tower for an untold number of years until the day comes that Ravenna's magic mirror announces she is no longer "fairest of them all," and that Snow White (Kristen Stewart) has surpassed her in beauty.

The mirror, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the dementors in "Harry Potter," also informs Ravenna that her magic will begin to fade unless she eats the heart of the fairer, and the queen immediately sends her brother to bring the princess.

Snow White's escape from the tower is harrowing. The princess' will to survive is severely tested as Ravenna uses every tool at her disposal trying to recapture her, and had it not been for the huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), she would have been hunted down halfway through her flight.

First, the dwarfs and then Snow White's childhood friend William (Sam Claflin) join the pair as they make their way to join the duke and defeat the evil queen. Each of the three leading characters has a distinct, well-developed personality: Snow White is driven and seemingly fearless, the huntsman mysterious and surprisingly vulnerable, and Ravenna cruel and self-obsessed.

This movie is rated PG-13 for a reason: There is a plethora of mostly bloodless violence (think "Lord of the Rings"), including a scene in which the huntsman pushes a man into a cluster of spikes, possibly the most gruesome death in the movie.

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There are also some shots of a naked Ravenna, shown waist-up from the back, and two rather uncomfortable moments between the king and Ravenna the night she kills him, and between Snow White and Ravenna's brother on the day she escapes.

The computer animation and effects are spectacular, two of the highlights being a white elk in the forest dissolving into hundreds of white butterflies, and the aging (or rejuvenating, depending on the situation) processes of Ravenna.

From start to finish, the film was fast-paced and difficult to predict.

"Snow White and the Huntsman" is rated PG-13 for action violence; running time: 127 minutes.

Related article: Doug's take: Fairy tale more of a horror tale

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Email: jhenrie@desnews.com