In this dark take on the Grimm fairytale, Kristen Stewart plays the "fairest princess in the land" whom the jealous Ravenna (Charlize Theron) selects as a target for Chris Hemsworth's grieving hunter. On entering the dark forest she meets the drunken hunter... and a band of dwarves including Bob Hoskins and Ray Winstone. Splendid special effects and a top-notch cast - led by glower-puss Kristen - makes this a must for adventure lovers, fantasy fans and Twiliteers alike.
For a film that preaches the virtues of inner beauty, Snow White and the Huntsman relies markedly on the superficial.
It is a Grimm reimagining of the classic fairytale, about as far from this year's earlier incarnation - the fun and frivolous Mirror Mirror - as it is possible to get.
Gone are the quips and merriment, in their place a Tolkien-esque odyssey, with a script that takes itself far too seriously, a storyline that lacks focus and a simply stunning aesthetic that deserves better.
The eponymous princess (Stewart) is more desperate prisoner than a whistle-while-you work type, as she flees the evil Queen Ravenna (Theron), who has killed her dad, kept her in a tower and is now after her heart (literally, not metaphorically) to safeguard the eternal youth and beauty on which all her power is based.
K-Stew brings every bit of Bella Swann she can to the role, complete with lip twitches and awkward, sorrowful glances. Perhaps newbie director Rupert Sanders could have directed her better - or perhaps both chose to capitalize on the Twi-hard audience she brings with her. Either way, if you found her self-conscious style irritating before, you will find her no different here.
Anyway, off she goes into the Dark Forest (a deadly serious version of The Princess Bride's ironic Fire Swamp), where she fights her way bravely through twigs and joins forces with a reluctant and inebriated hero, the Huntsman of the title, played by a scrawnier Chris Hemsworth sporting a ponytail and a Shrek-like Scottish accent, with Ravenna's brother and henchmen in hot pursuit.
The presentation is a tour de force, from the crackling white snow to the sepia hues of the dark forest to the lush delights and visual effects of the enchanted forest (bar one moment in the latter when an attempt to create magical birds is more creepy than it is spellbinding). These are the work of Double Negative, the Soho-based special effects company that won an Oscar for Inception, and its creations here are marvellous.
As Ravenna, a queen whose powers involve sucking youth straight from the visage of a virginal Lily Cole and teleporting into forests via a cloak made of ravens, Theron has just the right level of beauty and bitterness.
But she is emblematic of the delusion of power that is the film's weakness. To work in a modern context, fairytale films, must either reinvent themselves entirely or learn not to take themselves so seriously. Actually this is true of all films set in Ye Olde England. Think Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.
The ever jolly Hemsworth does brng some light relief, as do the craftily cast dwarves (Bob Hoskins, Toby Jones, Ray Winstone, Ian McShane - the list goes on).
But the narrative lacks drive and there's something just a bit, well, dull about the whole thing, with too many characters in a plot that, ultimately, it's difficult to relate to or care about.
The only contemporary thing about Snow White is just how hard it seems to be trying to appeal to a teen audience.
It may well be a commercial success as a result. But the evidently talented Sanders can probably do better. Watch this space.