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The Huntsman Winter's War Review

The Huntsman: Winter's War

Genre: Action and Adventure

Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Nick Frost, Sam Claflin, Rob Brydon, Jessica Chastain

MPAA-Rating: PG-13

Release Date: April 22nd, 2016

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) was a surprise success story. The film was packed with strong special effects, view a joyfully over-the-top villain (played by Oscar winner Charlize Theron) and a compelling story.  The sequel The Huntsman: Winter’s War has none of those things. In fact, erectile this film — which serves as a prequel/sequel to the original — just feels like a feeble attempt to build a franchise out of a story that should’ve stopped after one movie.

Casting aside the story of Snow White, viagra the tale begins with the dreadful Queen Ravenna (Theron) living a privileged life alongside her naïve sister Freya (Emily Blunt). Where Ravenna is cold and calculating, Freya is kind and patient. In fact, Freya believes in true love and hopes to run away with a Duke who has given her a newborn child. Just when she believes that her future is set though, Freya’s baby is murdered by the Duke — leaving Freya in undeniable anguish and pain. Freya, an ice queen whose powers clearly mirror those of Frozen’s Elsa, leaves her sister’s kingdom and goes off to start a new kingdom of her own.

As the narrator notes about Freya’s turn to the dark side, “If she could not raise a child, then in its place she would raise an army.” Freya goes on to murder parents so she can raise their children into a dreadful team of conquerers. Eric and Sara, two of those orphans, grow up to become great soldiers and are  portrayed as adults by Chris Hemworth and Jessica Chastain. The duo falls in love — a forbidden action that forces Freya to destroy their relationship.

After being left for dead by Freya’s soldiers, Eric goes on to fight Ravenna during the events of Snow White and the Huntsman so although the story began before the adventures of Snow White, the majority of it takes place after the original film.

Director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, who earned an Oscar nomination for his work on the original’s visual effects where he also served as a second-unit director, seems ill-suited to move this series in an interesting direction. In fact, this sequel feels greatly inferior to the original in dozens of ways despite the fact that this is a new story.

Snow White and the Huntsman defied expectations by telling a well-known story in an interesting way. The Huntsman: Winter’s War tells a new story in a completely unremarkable way.

One of the feature’s greatest faults is the way it disrespects its characters and shows them making radical decisions that defy reason. The issue begins with Freya, who is presented as a loving and caring mother and girlfriend for the first few minutes of the story. When tragedy strikes, she becomes a stereotypical villain who outlaws love in her new kingdom. Fairy-tales sometimes take a leap like that but the change in character here is so transparent and silly that it defies logic.

So too does the relationship that Eric and Sara share for much of the feature. Without spoiling the film, this romantic duo can’t seem to understand the truth about the monstrous Freya, despite the fact that Freya ordered the deaths of both their parents. One would’ve thought that as adults, they would’ve become more cynical about their queen.

Add to those character flaws the superficial overall story that pushes these characters on their journey.  It turns out that Snow White is haunted by Ravenna’s evil mirror and so she wants it banished from the kingdom. Eric hears about the mirror and wants to destroy it while Freya wants it for herself so some of the conflict here is about the ownership of a silly mirror.

The film’s creative failures unfortunately overpower the boisterous fun that Charlize Theron once again brings to the screen here (Emily Blunt, for all of her good qualities as an actress, can’t seem to match the power that Theron brings to her character.) Hemworth serves as a solid leading man here as well (a particular highlight is when he shouts “This is the worst plan ever,” after he hatches a rescue mission) even though the script doesn’t deserve his boisterous spirit.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War just seems like an unnecessary expansion of a surprise hit and one that undeniably pales in comparison to the original.

Review by: John Hanlon