The cold never bothered me anyway
The Huntsman: Winter's War is directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan and is based on the characters by Evan Daughtery, one of the screenwriters for Snow White and the Huntsman. Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Nick Frost, and Sam Claflin return to reprise their roles from the previous film, and newcomers to the cast include Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain, and Rob Brydon.
There came a point in the middle of watching The Huntsman: Winter's War that it finally dawned on me what exactly is wrong with this movie: how unnecessary it all is. Here you have a movie that takes place in the world of Snow White, and yet, there is no Snow White to be found. Does that make very much sense to you? That'd be like making a movie in the world of John Wick, but have the movie focus on a select group of characters, none of which are named John Wick. The only bit of Snow White we do get is a brief moment in when we see her from behind for a few seconds, as she is looking into the Magic Mirror from the first movie. But what we see is a body double for Kristen Stewart, who had declined the offer to appear in this movie, even in a cameo role.
The absence of Snow White makes it next to near impossible to justify why exactly this movie needed to be made and how it has any kind of intrinsic value whatsoever. All that The Huntsman: Winter's War accomplishes is give us a firm reminder of the over-reliance of Hollywood on trite and uninspired sequels, prequels, and remakes, whose think tank of originality and creativity has been running on fumes for several years now, and officially reached empty back in 2017. The truly sad part though, is that The Huntsman: Winter's War gives you the impression that it has at least some potential, boasting a big name cast and glossy visuals, yet never truly cashing in on these valuable assets. Instead, you have a tediously plotted fantasy film that is severely lacking any form of fun or entertainment.
Here's what we get story-wise: The Huntsman: Winter's War serves as both a prequel and a sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman, showing us events that happen before and after the events of the the first film, which ended up being an unwise decision, and something we'll get into more in just a bit. The wicked Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) uses her powers to learn that her younger sister Freya (Emily Blunt) is engaged in an affair with a man named Andrew (Colin Morgan). Ravenna also learns that Freya is pregnant with his child. Freya eventually gives birth to a baby girl and plans to marry Andrew in secret, followed by the two running far away somewhere together with their child in order to start a new life. Things go horribly wrong, however, when Freya discovers that Andrew has murdered their child, resulting in a grief-fueled Freya unleashing ice powers that were unknown to her before. Freya flees the kingdom and travels far away to start her own kingdom, where she rules as the Ice Queen. Freya orders for children to be abducted, so that they can be trained as huntsmen and not have to experience the pain of love as she herself had experienced. Two of the best huntsmen, Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain), grow up and fall in love, and plan to secretly marry and run away together. This is obviously a big no-no for Freya, who discovers that Eric and Sara are in love, and separates the two by creating a massive ice wall. Eric is then forced out of the kingdom, but not until he watches as Sara is killed by their fellow huntsmen.
This is all prequel stuff, and if I were to share all of the sequel parts of the story, I'd basically give you the entire plot. Here's a brief summary of the sequel parts of the film: Eric is informed by Snow White's husband, William (Sam Claflin), to go and retrieve the Magic Mirror from Sanctuary, the place that Snow White was hoping would contain the mirror's dark magic forever. Eric is accompanied on his journey by the dwarves Nion (Nick Frost) and Gryff (Rob Brydon). Upon departure, Eric discovers that Freya is watching him, and realizes that Freya seeks the mirror as well, for it will make Freya even stronger than she is now.
If you think about it enough, the entire plot of The Huntsman: Winter's War is a rough copy of Disney's Frozen, in which a royal princess unleashes powers that allow her to manipulate ice and snow, followed by her running away and building her own kingdom, all the while needing to have her icy heart melted by the warm and never-ending power of love. There may be no dancing snowman or singing of, "Let it Go", but I don't think it would be completely wrong to call The Huntsman: Winter's War a slight ripoff of Frozen. If only being heavily compared to Frozen was the worst of The Huntsman" Winter's War's problems. Oh no, there is still much more to tell.
- Apologies, my dear readers, but as much as I tried, I was not successful in finding any significant high points worth discussing for this movie. This is one of those films that defies being labeled as a complete stinker, because it's at least technically competent enough from a film-making standpoint so as to convince you that professional people worked on this thing. But at the same time, those same professional people fail to convey to you exactly what the mindset was going in and what the end goal was supposed to be. It's a movie. I can say that much at least. But a good movie? Uh, well....about that...
- The Huntsman: Winter's War slips on the ice and falls when it comes to keeping your interest for its entire 114 minutes. There's just not enough exciting action or adventurous spirit here to really make you care about these characters and what their motivations are, let alone feel like you're at least having some modicum of fun. The visuals, as lovely as they are, won't hold your interest from start to finish. Neither will Chris Hemsworth continuing to act like a suave, always-smiling lover's boy who usually has the upper hand on his competition (save for a bar fight against some of Freya's henchmen).
- Emily Blunt, what happened here? I have never seen Blunt give such a lethargic performance, treating her performance like it was a contractual obligation and not any sort of passionate desire. Freya is incredibly mopey throughout the film, which you would think is in line with how her character should be, except that she likes to have a few angry outbursts that might remind you of what Eddie Redmayne did in his similar performance in Jupiter Ascending. It also doesn't help that Freya's accent makes it confusing to understand some of the words she speaks, such as when she is looking out a window, and calls for a guard by calling, "guard". At first, I swear she said "God", and it would make sense she would be calling to God, because she is looking out a window while in the middle of deep thought. Just the whole of Blunt's performance has me wishing that she never comes close to anything Snow White related again.
As much as I want to call The Huntsman: Winter's War terrible, its flaws are not bad enough for it to be appropriately called terrible. The story tries to squeeze in too much in 114 minutes by serving as both a prequel and a sequel, and hardly anything in the plot is capable of holding your attention for a long stretch. It's boring, un-creative, and above all else, unnecessary. No amount of visual appeal and muscle in the cast can save The Huntsman: Winter's War from being a fairly below average fantasy film that will likely be all but forgotten in the very near future, if it hasn't been already.
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