Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Directed by: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Chris Hemsworth, Emily Blunt, Charlize Theron, Rob Brydon, Nick Frost
Let’s be honest, did anyone actually ask for a prequel/sequel to a film that no one really liked to begin with? Probably not, but hey, someone did, and seemingly Snow White and The Huntsman made enough at the box office to warrant Winter’s War’s existence. I don’t mind though. I’m partial to a rollicking good fantasy adventure now and again, relishing in mythical worlds, fantastical creatures, evil queens and gruff warriors with bad Scottish accents and whatnot.
All I ask is that if you insist in giving us another one of these things, just make sure it’s a good movie. I actually had hope for Winter’s War, especially with the likes of Jessica Chastain and Emily Blunt jumping on board, and Charlize Theron returning to the role that was one of the highlights of the first film. Honestly, genuine hope.Unfortunately, The Huntsman: Winter’s War is yet another example of wasted opportunity and talent. A drab, dour affair that whilst having a sparkling, glossy sheen, as exemplified by its beautifully constructed set and costume design, is as shallow as the CGI goblins and Scottish accents that populate it.
Don’t get me wrong, the film is certainly not as bad as some critics would have you believe, but that isn’t saying much. It’s just all so…painstakingly mediocre; a derivative mixture of Game of Thrones and Narnia with a little bit of Frozen thrown in for good measure. And not in a good, fun kind of way.
The film begins before the events of the previous movie as Theron’s Queen Ravenna rules one of the seemingly many kingdoms in this unnamed land, with her sister Freya (Blunt) by her side. When Freya has a child with her beau – who as the golden mirror tells it, is destined to become fairer than Ravenna – it isn’t long before Freya’s child succumbs to a not so mysterious death, unleashing Freya’s latent ice powers.As the overwrought narrator informs us, Freya departs for the north to build her own kingdom and steals children from their families to raise an army of Huntsman, with only one rule: never fall in love. Of course, Hemsworth’s Eric and Chastain’s Sara break that rule, bringing down the wrath of Freya upon them. Cut to seven years later and the sequel portion of the film kicks in, with some awkward exposition eliminating Snow White from proceedings.
It’s hard to find fault with the actors themselves. Yes, Hemsworth and Chastain have little chemistry as a couple, but they do their best with what they have to work with, which ultimately isn’t much. A lot of the time, the two engage in the occasional fight with a CGI goblin or brute, before sparring in some lame witty romantic comedy-esque banter.
Rob Brydon and Nick Frost, along with their counterparts Sheridan Smith and Alexandra Roach, make for a feisty group of dwarfs and bring much needed comic relief to a film that is in desperate need of a light hearted sparkle. And our heroes are pretty much left wandering around the forest, with not much to do really. That’s pretty much it for a solid hour before the jumping and swordplay and CGI stuff comes into effect.Blunt and Theron liven things up considerably whenever they’re on screen, but there’s not enough of them, and the film suffers greatly whenever they disappear. If Winter’s War had instead focused its attention more on the ensuing power struggle between Ravenna and Freya, we might have had a more interesting and much more lively film. Instead we get a bog standard narrative about a magic mirror, defeating the evil queen etc.
While it’s nowhere near the disaster that some critics make out, the film is a derivative affair, remaining as forgettable and as generic as its predecessor.