Like any good fairy tale, "Snow White and the Huntsman" exists in a fantastical realm not always governed by logic.
It's a place where magic rules the land, where love conquers all, and where Kristen Stewart is considered more beautiful than Charlize Theron. (Settle down, Twi-hards. Your beloved Bella is plenty attractive, but, c'mon.)
Anyway, the evil Ravenna (Theron) marries then murders King Magnus, stealing his kingdom before locking his daughter, Snow White (Stewart), away in a tower.
Years later, Ravenna learns from her magic mirror - a fabulous "Terminator 2"-style, molten metal concoction with a voice like Barry White in his prime - that Snow White's purity is the only thing that can destroy the queen. Consuming Snow's heart, Barry White Mirror says, is the key to Ravenna's immortality, meaning she'll no longer have to suck the life out of other beauties to remain youthful.
But just as she sends her creepy, "Game of Thrones"-reject brother Finn (Sam Spruell) to fetch the princess, Snow escapes - showing no ill effects, no muscle atrophy or anything, of being locked away in a small cell for a decade or so - and makes a break for the Dark Forest.
Conveniently, that's the only place Ravenna's magic doesn't work, otherwise she wouldn't need Eric ("Thor's" Chris Hemsworth), the huntsman of the title - a miserable drunk since his wife's death and one of the few to have survived the Dark Forest - to capture Snow.
What follows is a long, difficult journey through the kingdom for Snow and Eric, who quickly becomes her ally. They're never far ahead of pale, pervy Finn and his band of warriors - which has been infiltrated by Snow's childhood love, William (Sam Claflin), the weakest leg of a superfluous love triangle.
Eventually, Snow and Eric meet up with the dwarves - distractingly shrunken versions of recognizably taller actors, including Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins and Ray Winstone - and heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it's off to war they go.
Theron, Stewart and Hemsworth get top billing, but the real stars of "Snow White and the Huntsman" are first-time feature director Rupert Sanders, Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood ("Alice in Wonderland") and the visual effects team.
Sanders clearly knows his way around a set piece, bringing bad-trip paranoia to the Dark Forest, which "gains its strength from your weakness," and eliciting genuine wonder from his depiction of Sanctuary, where sparkling fairies emerge from bird breasts and the mushrooms have eyes. The visuals are never less than arresting.
After dominating the opening act, Theron's Ravenna disappears for long stretches, likely on vocal rest from her early histrionics. "Snow White and the Huntsman" could have been the first movie to have a commercial tie-in with a throat lozenge.
She turns up periodically to look older and worse for wear. Not Aileen Wuornos-bad, but still. Although it's hard to look terrible in a succession of stunning gowns, ranging from the shiny metal number that makes her resemble a sexy Statue of Liberty to the "Black Swan" getup of the finale. Like the movie, she remains stylish till the end.
The whole thing would have felt more revolutionary if ABC's "Once Upon a Time" hadn't just stolen its Snow White, Warrior Princess thunder. And it's at least 20 minutes too long.
This "Snow White" may not be the fairest of them all, but sometimes, especially during the heat of summer, fair-to-middling does just fine.
Contact Christopher Lawrence at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4567.