Grimm Justice for the evil queen in 'Snow White'™

"Snow White and the Huntsman" is not the Disney-animated fairy tale released in 1937, featuring that iconic, innocent waif who boards with seven dwarfs and is sent into an eternal slumber by an evil Queen, resentful of her beauty.

In contrast, this contemporary version creates a milieu that is far closer to the original fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm in 1812, one of many that was not meant to entertain youngsters but to make their lower lips quiver. Fairy tales were dark morality plays, stark contests between good and evil, causing children to crawl into bed, nascent fears of goblins, gnomes, trolls and elves about to rob them of their peaceful sleep.

The just-released "Snow White," using astonishing special effects, creates a bleak landscape, ominous and shadowed, inhabited by a tormented and rage-filled queen, Ravenna (Charlize Theron), stepmother to Snow White, who wages a very personal battle against her own mortality and the waning of her youthful beauty. Gazing into an elliptical mirror, she asks if there is anyone in her kingdom fairer than she. The mirror answers that there is, and it's the Princess Snow White (Kristen Stewart), daughter of the king murdered by Ravenna and held captive in the castle's tower. The Queen sends her brother, Finn (Sam Spruell), to fetch the Princess. The mirror has told the Queen that if she eats Snow White's heart, she will achieve the immortality she so desperately craves.

Of course, Snow White escapes the castle tower, running into the forbidden forest. Ravenna strikes a bargain with a drunken Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to find her and bring her back. And so the hunt is on, aided by the dastardly brother.

What screenwriters Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini have done is extrapolate mightily from what was essentially a very spare tale. They create out of whole cloth a prolonged chase, buttressed by some astonishing CGI and a tour de force performance by Theron. As well, the production is lush and rich, the costumes stunning, the characters, to include eight dwarfs digitally shortened, compelling, and an enchanted forest where fairies (seemingly small ETs) actually live wonderfully imagined.

While the contrasts between good and evil are clear and certainly dramatic, and magic is taken to new heights, there is one element to the narrative that's missing: a love story. There is not one penetrating look shared by Snow White and her new protector, the Huntsman. Not an inkling of mutual attraction. While true that no one does ambivalence better than Stewart, who took conflicted hesitation to new heights in the "Twilight" franchise, establishing a connection between the two would have added a much-needed dimension to the film.

There is a great climactic battle, led by a transformed Snow White, now a warrior princess, ala Katniss Everdeen of "The Hunger Games." With this version of the Grimms' tale, the nightmares are put to rest as the princess, regaled in armor, wielding a sword, breaches the castle walls to confront the Queen.

The denouement, as it turns out, is pure sweetness.

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