- Title: The Huntsman: Winter’s War
- wiki: link
I wasn’t too impressed with 2012’s retelling of the fairy tale of Snow White. While visually elegant, I felt the story lacked heart and a willingness to truly embrace the fairy tale. Dumping one of its two title characters for the sequel, The Huntsman: Winter’s War brings back the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), the evil Ravenna (Charlize Theron), and two of the seven dwarves (Nick Frost and Rob Brydon) in a movie that is both prequel and sequel to the original.
The movie’s plot-heavy first forty minutes or so is problematic as the sequel explains the origins of Ravenna’s sister Freya (Emily Blunt) who will serve as the main villain this time around. These sequences also explain Freya’s madness brought on by tragedy and her army of Huntsman. This offers an extended backstory on Hemsworth’s character as well, including his relationship to both Freya and another Huntsman (Jessica Chastain) who kicks her share of ass and turns out be a far more interesting character than Kristen Stewart‘s Snow White. While still flawed, the sequel proves to be more fun than the original and something closer to the questionable success of Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and Jack the Giant Slayer.
After spending a bit too much time slogging through this set-up the movie picks up when it returns to the events following Snow White and the Huntsman. Freya’s hold in the North has increased and now her soldiers are hunting the Magic Mirror of her sister which she hopes to use to grow even more powerful. With the mirror stolen by goblins, the Huntman, Gryff (Brydon), and Nion (Frost) are dispatched to stop it from falling into the wrong hands. Along the way the travelers will meet two female dwarves (Sheridan Smith, Alexandra Roach), and an unexpected fifth member, who join their quest.
Along with the back-and-forth between Chastain and Hemsworth, it’s the addition of the dwarves that allows the film to be more than completely forgettable first film. Injecting levity and a bit of infectious fun into the proceedings the film’s second hour works better than Snow White and the Huntsman. The Huntsman: Winter’s War is still flawed, and Emily Blunt’s Freya lacks the same on-screen presence of her sister (Freya is immediately overshadowed once Theron’s evil queen returns which completely undercuts the film’s final act). Like most of the pre-summer adventure flicks, it’s not quite ready for prime time. There are plenty of plot, pacing, and editing issues. But the sets and costuming continue to be impressive, and at least this time there is a little more fun to be had.