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The Huntsman: Winter’s War is the follow up to 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman. The Huntsman is a prequel/sequel or sorts of that begins with the origin story of the Huntsman and progresses into him saving the kingdom from the evil queen…again.
Freya (Emily Blunt) suffers a tragic loss in the beginning of the film that devastates her beyond belief. Her sister, the evil Ravenna (Charlize Theron) encourages her to use her intense pain to make to make herself stronger than ever. So Freya, who has the power of turning anything into ice, decides to channel her pain into creating a brand new ice kingdom to rule over. Yes, much like Disney’s Frozen. Freya abducts a bunch of children so that she can train them to become adult soldiers. When Freya gives them their welcoming speech, she lets them know that any kind of love is forbidden in this kingdom.
Included in this first group of children, are Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain). Eric and Sara have become the best fighters in the kingdom, but they have also over the years fallen in love, and become husband and wife. Freya finds out about the two lovers and executes a plan to destroy their courtship. She succeeds and Eric takes off alone. Cut to seven years later, Eric and Snow White have already saved the kingdom and destroyed Queen Ravenna, but more trouble still looms. Evil Queen Ravenna’s mirror is missing, and if it is not found before Queen Freya locates it, she will use it to destroy the remaining kingdoms she has not yet conquered.
If this plot sounds weird, that’s because it is. It seems as if The Huntsman cannot decide if it wants to be a prequel to Snow White or a brand new story. Eric is commissioned by Snow White to find this mirror quickly, because it is haunting her and causing her to lose her mind. We then see a shot of the back of Snow White’s head, but it is not mentioned again for the rest of the film. Eric, Nion and Gryff , the two dwarves who accompany him (played by a wasted Nick Frost and Rob Brydon), and a back from the dead Sara spend a lot of time wandering around a forest bantering while searching looking for this mirror, but it takes them what seems like forever to locate it. When they do finally find the mirror, it is quickly stolen by Freya and her army, and the team must again find a way to take it out of her hands and destroy it. Within this process, Queen Ravenna somehow manages to come back from the dead and wreaks havoc on everyone. So Eric, the Huntsman must destroy the evil Queen…again.
The action is awful in this film. Chris Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain are soldiers, but there are hardly any fights. Chris Hemsworth is funny and charming, but he really has nothing do to here. Jessica Chastain, while obviously an excellent actress, is not really believable as a warrior. Emily Blunt is fine, and Charlize Theron does camp it up for the few minutes she is in it. Her campy performance is entertaining, but her part is so small and the story is so weak, it’s like this movie was not worthy of all that camp. The direction is terrible. This is supposed to be an ulitimate fantasy film, but the set looks rather cheap. Much of the movie looks like the actors’ are practicing their lines in someone’s big backyard. The scene transitions are awkward, even though these actors are top notch it feels as if they are giving it their all for their first student film.
When I think about this movie, the first word that comes to mind is unnecessary. With Kristen Stewart’s Snow White regaining the throne and the evil Queen Ravenna dying in the first movie, what would a sequel be about? Without Kristen Stewart, and just the Huntsman, what story is there to tell? And did the audience really care about what happen to the Huntsman? He did not really do much in the first film. All I saw when I watched this was good actors trying to make the best of a mediocre film.