Review: The Huntsman: Winter’s War Is Long, Poorly Paced, And Soulless
Title:: The Huntsman: Winter’s War
Director: Cedric-Nicolas Troyan
Screenwriter: Evan Spiliotopoulos (written by), Craig Mazin (written by), and Evan Daugherty (characters)
Principal Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Jessica Chastain, Emily Blunt, Nick Frost, and Rob Brydon
Summary: As a war between rival queen sisters Ravenna and Freya escalates, Eric and fellow warrior Sara, members of the Huntsmen army raised to protect Freya, try to conceal their forbidden love as they combat Ravenna’s wicked intentions.
To say that I was leery of a spin-off from Snow White and the Huntsman starring The Huntsman would be an understatement. The first movie was already not that great and the entire thing seemed to reek of misogyny. The movie was announced not long after it was revealed that Kristen Stewart had an affair with director of the movie, Rupert Sanders. It was a big thing at the time and it got a lot of media attention. It felt like, at least the way I read it, that Stewart was being pushed away because of it when I had a good feeling that the same thing wouldn’t have happened if it was a guy having the affair. The cinematography of the original was interesting at least, but I didn’t have any hope for this movie.
The Huntsman: Winter’s War takes one of the few fairy tales with women as the protagonist and antagonist and makes it about a man.
There is quite a bit to unpack here about this movie and why I left as annoyed as I did but I’ll do my best to keep this as spoiler free as possible. The main thing you need to know going in is that this is both a prequel and a sequel which is as narratively odd as it sounds. The story of Snow White is a story about women and is about an issue that affects women more than most fairytales. The first movie in this series played lip service to that in the idea that a woman is only as power as she is beautiful and how much power a woman has is connected to her looks. There isn’t anything that interesting on display here as the movie starts out with one of the oldest tropes in the books for female character; her strength comes from tragedy. The way that the power in Freya (Emily Blunt) is awakened is through the murder of her baby and her power over ice is awakened. She decides that love is the route of weakness so she decides to outlaw love (her powers are ice so she’s cold).
She kidnaps kids and kills their parents to train them as warriors which is how Eric/The Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain) come to be.They fall in love, of course, and it doesn’t end well for them. It turns out that Sara is the dead wife from the previous movie. It’s too bad that this movie doesn’t do anything with the three great actresses that they have here. These are arguably three of the strongest working women in the industry right now and the only thing the screenwriters could come up with was to make them fight each other. They bring back Ravenna (Charlize Theron) for maybe ten minutes of total screen time and pit the two sisters against each other. Sara doesn’t have a character aside from the token warrior maiden motif that we’ve seen a hundred different times. The cast is rounded out by Eric trying to be charming and failing miserably.
They decide to try and bring out the humor by bringing in four dwarves to try and be funny but none of the jokes land. The writing is just across the board bad and, unlike the previous movie, the cinematography isn’t even interesting this time. Theron isn’t in the movie long enough to chew the scenery unlike the previous movie. Blunt is an Ice Queen which means that is rarely over the top enough to be interesting. She is supposed to be cold so Blunt plays the role very downkey and not nearly as fun as she could be. Chastain is trying the best she can with the incredibly stupid role that they have given her but they don’t let her evolve at all. Hemsworth has his normal charisma, but between the terrible accent and the fact that his character doesn’t have an arc he’s boring by the end. The movie goes out of its way to try and keep Snow White in the story (while not actually having her in the story) and it’s nearly laughable by the end. The movie clocks in at nearly two hours, and by twenty minutes in I was already to the point where I wanted to look for my watch.
The Huntsman: Winter’s War is frustrating because everything about it is so cynical and soulless. There is obviously not a bit of love or passion being put into this series, aside from the various parties involved collecting their paychecks. They took the least interesting part of the story of Snow White and turned it into a two hour waste of time that doesn’t even have the decency to be so bad it’s fascinating. It’s just a long, drab, dull, cold and lifeless waste of time (much like the Ice Queen herself) that even diehard fans of the previous movie won’t enjoy.