The Huntsman: Winter’s War is the prequel/sequel to the just okay Snow White and the Huntsman from 2012. Is this new film any better?
The film begins by telling the story of Ravenna (Charlize Theron) and Freya (Emily Blunt). Ravenna has magical powers and takes her throne by murdering her husband. This doesn’t seem to bother her sister Freya, who has no powers, but she is carrying on an affair with a man who is betrothed to another. Freya eventually gives birth to the man’s child, but when he seemingly murders the baby, Freya’s ice powers manifest. She goes north (naturally) to conquer her own kingdom. She takes children from her vanquished foes and trains them to become her huntsmen. Two of these children grow up to become Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain). The two of them break Freya’s law against falling in love, (I know, I know), so she punishes them. Cut to after the events of the first film and the magic mirror has disappeared. Eric is recruited by Snow White’s men to find it, but it brings him back into conflict with Freya. Who will rule the realm? Who is the fairest of them all? WHO IS THE FAIREST OF THEM ALL???
I didn’t find The Huntsman to be the worst movie ever, but it’s not all that good either. It is very derivative of all other fantasy films and extremely predictable. There are no twists here that you can’t see coming from a thousand miles away. It also doesn’t help that the trailers gave away the one big twist—that Ravenna comes back to life. At the same time, less discerning moviegoers could find a mildly entertaining diversion here. The biggest problem with the film though is that none of the characters show any real passion and the one that does is so over the top hammy, you just want her to go away. So while I enjoyed some of the effects and fantasy elements pilfered from other films, the movie can also get extremely boring due to the lack of enthusiasm from the cast/characters. It’s also pretty bizarre that Snow White is mentioned several times here, but is not in the film at all. I guess that’s what happens when the actress who played the role in the first film has a public affair with the married director.
Most of the cast here is fine, but there are no real standout performances. Hemsworth is just biding time between Marvel films, while Blunt tries for emotionless as Freya. I could have bought that approach if her character wasn’t so stupid. I couldn’t keep track if we were supposed to be rooting for her or against her at any given point. It’s nice to see Chastain kick some ass, but her character is hampered by the fact that one line of dialogue could have unraveled her character’s whole motivation in the movie’s second half. It weakens her considerably as a character. Theron’s performance is just…ridiculous. Whatever gravitas the film tries to muster, she destroys it at every turn. Nick Frost and Rob Brydon put in decent performances as the comic relief, but that’s about it.
Overall, The Huntsman is just a lazy movie at best. Things happen way too easily and there is nothing new to see at all. It’s all been done before in far superior films. Feel free to skip this one.