On the other hand, the background designs are gorgeous, whether they aim for photorealism or strive to build a psychedelic, magical dreamscape. And the demon forms are wildly imaginative — perhaps too much so for the children who seem to be the film’s target audience. (It’s distributed by GKIDS, which, despite its name, handles movies for both adult and family audiences.) A humorous talking dog may seem kid-friendly, but a three-headed crane and a two-faced fox spirit may be too creepy for the elementary school crowd.
This is the latest in a long line of movies that have adapted this legend. It doesn’t quite match up to director Tsui Hark’s even more inventive 1993 film “Green Snake,” which emphasized the Verta character (played with conniving seduction by Maggie Cheung). But while that live action film can be jarring in its depiction of women as evil serpents, “White Snake” has more sympathy for its demons. They, after all, have a conscience.
Starring the voices of Stephanie Sheh, Paul Yen and Vivian Lu. Directed by Amp Wong and Ji Zhao. May be shown in two versions: one in Mandarin with subtitles and another dubbed in English.
Unrated but contains nightmarish imagery that may not be suitable for young children. At Landmark's Midtown Arts. 1 hour, 38 minutes.
Bottom line: A gorgeous folk tale that provides plenty of supernatural thrills for the young adult