Only Bob Hoskins as the blind seer Muir comes close to making us care. We can almost glean Snow White's heroic possibilities through his clouded eyes. As much as we'd like to, we certainly can't from Stewart's efforts.
Perhaps the best thing about "Snow White and the Huntsman" is it doesn't smirk at itself. It plays out as a story about mortality and greed and oppression in a fantastical world, but it doesn't act as if anything is silly.
There will be lots of versions of Theron's evil queen running around West Hollywood this Halloween; it's a performance that's one part Tilda Swinton to 30 parts Faye Dunaway, the sort of over-the-top craziness that spawns midnight screenings.
It is an absolute wonder to watch and creates a warrior princess for the ages. But what this revisionist fairy tale does not give us is a passionate love - its kisses are as chaste as the snow is white.
Sanders makes all the mistakes of a neophyte filmmaker, but doing it with such a massive budget leads to a cinematic hodgepodge of fractured fairy-tale imagery, computer-generated menacing forests and gamboling, turtle-riding fairies.
It turns into a clangy medieval epic, full of random woodland monsters and battles, and it begins to lose the pulse of its fairy-tale mystique. It's like watching Clash of the Titans IV: Revenge of the Blood Apple.
I resisted this derivative mishmash of classic fairytale and modern epic fantasy for as long as I could, but ultimately it swept me up into its geeky but manly embrace and carried me away on a white charger.
Snow does earn top billing, but don't be fooled: This film belongs to the Oscar-winning Theron, who sinks her talons into the killer part, making every snarl and outburst such wicked, cruel fun to behold.
The film ... proceeds with a deliberateness rare in a big-budget franchise starter; you can sense the hand of coscreenwriter Hossein Amini (Drive) in the story's always involving, slow-build structure.