The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016)

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Nearly four years since ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ we get this sort of prequel that drops the Snow White and adds two new females to the billing in a enjoyable if nothing special movie. It’s certainly retained the dark aspects but still lulls in places with obvious and boring story-telling, yet it’s better than the 2012 feature.

Before Snow White comes along evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) rules the land, her sister develops icy powers and soon overthrows the North in the name of outlawing love. Freya (Emily Blunt) almost manages this until her best warriors; Eric the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain) fall for each other. 7 years pass and the mirror is lost, all the powers it possesses means Freya wants it for her own so Eric tries to reach it before her.

I cannot honestly remember much of the first one because I’ve seen it once and that was 4 years ago but I do remember finding it lacking of interest even if the visuals were pretty cool. So visual effects supervisor from then is now the director of this movie which should be a blessing right? In a way, the answer to that is yes, because the film does always look stunning, from snowy castles to grassy nature living peacefully but Cedric Nicolas-Troyan doesn’t breathe any exciting life into this new offering. It feels done in a way that we’ve all seen before and even the final act never lands with the tension it should.

The beginning is set up alright and we are introduced to Freya and Sara well, so we can buy into their characters and follow their progress but in story terms it’s only this start and then mildly entertaining finale that does a good job. The middle feels very slow and there’s a section when Eric along with some dwarfs gets tiresome. I know they’re trying to get to the mirror but this adventure journey aspect goes on too long and makes the movie feel so much longer.

Everything does look amazing to give it its well deserved credit, the costuming and make-up department have pulled out every stop that’s going to make the characters spark. Ravenna and her golden sharp vision is still as glamorous as ever and now they have Freya to play around with, making the real life version of Elsa come to the screen. The locations are all believable and the visuals are a treat but with any film it should boil down the story and this one, even with all the pretty distractions never ceases being quite flat.

Saying all this I still liked watching it, I never yawned or wanted it to end, there’s a fair amount of action, a Game of Thrones like atmosphere and some blue tinged humour in the back and forths between characters that are examples of some funny writing amongst the screenplay. The two twisted sisters are both grand highlights in the movie also so watching them do their thing in the last few scenes helps the film a lot.

Chris Hemsworth and his wavering Scottish accent, I think it’s meant to be Scottish, are all mediocre. I think he must know he’s in here because he looks the part and can muster convincing fight scenes. Charlize Theron is a wickedly delicious talent to watch so it’s a shame she’s not in it much but when she does appear she laps up every inch of the scene. Emily Blunt debuts in this universe very well, her blue iced stare and cold looks selling the broken hearted vengeful queen as it should. Jessica Chastain kicks serious butt and gladly isn’t always the damsel in distress that other scripts may of had her character be. She fires into this prequel/follow-up like a warrior Merida from ‘Brave’ and works well with Hemsworth. Nick Frost and Rob Brydon try and bring some comic form as the height challenged men and for some parts it works and others…well it doesn’t.

I don’t understand why there even was this film, I guess the first film did well so even though I doubt there was much call for this movie it’s dumb but not wholly terrible. I can say it’s average at best but looks fantastic.

5/10

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