The Stevil Dead on Movies – The Huntsman: Winter’s War

the huntsman winters war

I’m at a serious loss of words that we are even speaking about this prequel/sequel to
2012’s Snow White and The Huntsman. I watched the first film the other night to get
acclimated with this version of the classic tale and had to constantly fight huge waves of
boredom. The movie is not entertaining in the least, its only spark of anything
interesting coming in how dark the film’s tone was but at the end of it all, really, who
cares? Snow White was made for a massive budget of $170 million and bafflingly made
that back and more, pulling almost $400 million, when all was said and done. Of course,
Universal would see that as the audience prompting them to make a sequel, against the
will of smart moviegoers.

Huntsman

The follow-up was fast-tracked very quickly with the film’s director, Rupert Sanders,
ready to take control again when a scandal arose between the married filmmaker and his
Snow White, Kristen Stewart, and the rest is history. The film was retooled to be a
spin-off, based around Chris Hemsworth’s Huntsman character and Sanders was
quickly removed from involvement. The production would go ahead with filming under
first-time feature director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan and with a lesser budget of $110
million. Also, through a contractual obligation from Crimson Peak, Jessica Chastain was
brought on to be the second lead and, even with how much I enjoy her work, I was not
enthused.

Huntsman

The film is really both a prequel and a sequel as the first bit of the film is to establish the
origin stories of our main villains, Ravena (Charlize Theron) and Freya (Emily Blunt),
two sisters with immense power, the former already using her gifts to take kingdom
after kingdom with her family at her side. Freya is the meeker one but the one most
likely to rival her older sister as the “fairest in the land” but things change completely
when tragedy hits her life and forces her icy powers to emerge. She leaves Ravena’s side
immediately and becomes the Ice Queen, ruling her own kingdom under a tyrannical
rule.

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As part of her new outlook on life, Freya begins to train a deadly army of “Huntsmen”,
taking the children from all the villages in her kingdom and having them train from a
young age. This is where we first meet our main characters, Eric (Hemsworth) and Sara
(Chastain), who soon becomes his wife. The two plot to run away together, away from
the all-seeing eye of their ruler, when Freya gets wind of the situation and separates the
two, seemingly forever. After these exposition scenes we are brought years into the
future, after the events of Snow White and The Huntsman.

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Unable to shake the dread and doubt I had in this film before it started, I hoped to find
really anything to latch onto in this sequel and enjoy but the tedium of the whole thing
sets in right away. For all of Nicolas-Stroyan’s stylish attempts to dazzle viewers, this
film lacks anything to set it apart from any fantasy feature and has the most drab and
unremarkable script since the Divergent Series. The Huntsman is the equivalent of the
entire bland landscape of young adult franchises disguised as a timeless tale. Think
“Frozen” without a pulse.

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Usually in the murk of awfulness, you can see glimmers of actor and actresses trying to
make the best of a bad situation, but here all the people suffer on screen and are almost
deserving of this. Chris Hemsworth, aside from Thor, makes it more know that he has,
either, a very hard time holding the lead role in a different project and making it
interesting or he is just choosing the wrong projects completely. I want to believe it’s the
second choice. He also is trying to pull of an accent that seems to disagree with every
fibre of his being which is Jessica Chastain’s issue as well. The two ham it up in a
competition of terrible whatever brogue their trying to do and it tarnishes them
irreparably for the duration of the movie.

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To add the glaze of awful to the ham is Charlize Theron and Emily Blunt, who, after
great roles for each in 2015, show up for the pay cheque in this. Theron continues her
shrieking style of villain acting that, mercifully, bookends the movie but the heavy lifting
is left to Blunt’s Freya. Besides being dressed haphazardly throughout the film,
including some laugh-inducing snow booties, Freya is an incredibly weak and lamely
developed tyrant who wallows in self-pity as far as her villain monologuing goes. In the
end, none of this really matters as no one cares about anything happening in this film
whatsoever. Even the limited attempts at humor are lame ducks that fall like a brick
anytime they are attempted. This is really sad as the comic relief is British talent Nick
Frost (returning from the first film) and Rob Brydon. Seriously, with those two, how do
you mess that up?

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I feel as a reviewer, films like this start to really exasperate me and make doing this feel
like a real chore of a job. To sit through essentially gold-plated garbage does nothing but
raise ire in me at what Hollywood deems worthy of large productions. $110 million to
make this Huntsman film seems absolutely egregious when you could make between
five to ten great films that only cost a tenth of that. Instead, I am punished with a close
to two hour film that hasn’t a shred of ingenuity to it at all, so much so that I came close
to passing out during it. Will this movie make it’s budget back? I don’t see it happening
but I’ve seen crazier things in my life. I will say that no one should even bother with The
Huntsman: Winter’s War and give it a one out of five.

The Stevil Dead on Movies - April 28th, 2016
The Stevil Dead on Movies - A Hologram For The King

Steve Stebbing

About Steve Stebbing

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Steve is an avid lover of all things film and enjoys talking about it, as well as comics and more. Steve also joins the DrexLive show every Thursday at 9pm PST on CKNW.com