Movie Review: The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016)
“The story before Snow White”
The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016)
Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chastain, Charlize Theron
Synopsis: The huntsman once more does battle with the evil Ravenna when she steals the magic mirror from Snow White.
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Some claim that Rupert Sanders, the director of Snow White and the Huntsman, and its star, Kristen Stewart, were cold-shouldered from The Huntsman: Winter’s War because of the affair they had during the making of the first movie. One can only wonder, then, what shenanigans the seven dwarfs got up to, as only two of them return for the sequel. Although none of the absentees are particularly missed, The Huntsman: Winter’s War does prove to be an insipid sequel, lacking in original ideas or visual invention.
Chris Hemsworth (In the Heart of the Sea, Ghostbusters) returns to do battle once more with Ravenna (Charlize Theron – Young Adult, Mad Max: Fury Road) and her little sister, Freya (Emily Blunt – The Muppets, Edge of Tomorrow), a lightweight version of her older sibling who only truly embraces the wickedness that’s such an integral part of Ravenna’s natural make-up when her baby child is murdered by her lover. So disillusioned with love is Freya that she banishes it from her newly established ice kingdom and creates a formidable army comprised of warriors who were stolen as children so that they could be taught in the ways of armed combat from an early enough age to make them virtually invincible when fully grown. One of these waifs grows up to be Eric, the muscular huntsman who helped Snow White defeat Ravenna in the first movie; another is Sara (Jessica Chastain – Interstellar, Crimson Peak), the wife he was mourning at the time.
Before he is thrown from a cliff to certain death for defying Freya’s love ban, Eric sees the love of his life also put to death. But, of course, nothing is certain in life, and especially not in fantasy, and Eric, at least, survives. The story then resumes after the events of the first movie, with Eric once more called upon to help Snow White, now restored to her rightful position as Queen, when the mirror which was once such an indispensable part of Ravenna’s beauty regime is stolen. So, accompanied by semi-comical dwarfs, Nion (Nick Frost – The World’s End) and Gryff (Rob Brydon – 24 Hour Party People), he embarks on a hobbit-like quest to retrieve the mirror before it falls into the hands of the vengeful Ravenna.
While it might fill us in on Eric’s back story, The Huntsman: Winter’s War has little else to offer, and there’s very much a sense of the makers seeking to milk a little more juice from its cash cow rather than wanting to expand on the world it has created. It’s a rather bleak and forbidding world at that, considering The Huntsman: Winter’s War was released as a 12A, even though the overall tone of the movie isn’t as dark as some might have hoped. Hemsworth makes an amiable enough leading man, even if he lacks the level of charisma such a part requires and is pointlessly made to speak his lines in a godawful accent which sounds like it’s supposed to be Scottish, but seems to tiptoe over to Ireland every now and then. Freya makes a rather half-hearted villainess who is more unhappy than outright evil, so it’s not until the movie is half over and Ravenna finally gets involved that things finally liven up a little. By then, though, the tone and pace of The Huntsman: Winter’s War has been set, and even Theron and her glacial beauty can’t turn things around.
(Reviewed 15th August 2016)