Movie Review: The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016)

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the_huntsman_winters_war.jpgTHE HUNTSMAN – WINTER’S WAR (USA 2016) **
Directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chastain, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt

Review by Gilbert Seah

The prequel to SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN is a film that is written for no reason but as an excuse to milk the box-office for more money in the fairy tale blockbuster special effects genre. The plot involves the sister, Freya (Emily Blunt) of the Evil Queen, Ravenna (Charleze Theron) that was the enemy of Snow White, becoming queen and training kidnapped children to be her army so that she can conquer more lands. Her Kingdom has only one rule – no love is allowed.
Love inevitably blossoms between two children that grow up to become Chris Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain. Eric and Sara marry in their own way. The Ice Queen Freya separates them. Eric embarks on a quest to find the magic mirror (that mirror, mirror on the wall who can tell the fairest of them all mirror) in order to save Snow White’s Kingdom. The clumsy story goes on with the quest looking similar to Frodo’s in LORD OF THE RINGS, complete with 4 dwarfs as well.

The dwarfs do enliven the sorry plot. But nothing really keeps one really engaged despite the glossy production, Snow white is noticeably missing in this prequel to Snow White. Her name is only mentioned and that she had been usurped the throne from the Evil Queen. But Snow White was nevertheless unmemorable in the first film and I would bet many would even have forgotten who played that role (Kristen Stewart), so leaving her character out might have been a good decision.

The prequel instead adds Jessica Chastain and Emily Blunt, two hot actresses of today. The former plays the huntsman’s love interest while the other, the evil queen sister, the ice queen (similar to FROZEN), which the audience can foresee will end up with a battle of the siblings. This does happen at the film’s climax.

Theron continues the bitchiness with royal effect while Blunt has to settle with a milder villainous performance. Hemswoth does what he is paid to do – look his best and that he undoubtedly does well. Sloppiness shows in the filmmaking when the actors speak with different accents – English, Irish and American.

Cedric Nicolas-Troyan who was on the special effects team in the first film takes over the director’s reigns in this one. Colleen Atwood who was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Costume Design returns to do the elaborate costumes. No doubt the gowns of the two queens are nothing short of stunning with gold, icy white and feathers while the huntsman dons metal and silver. Whenever on queen appears, it seems like a fashion show is about to commence. But these costumes are not sufficient to make the film.

The climatic fight scene is a battle in which all the heroes and villains (male and female) come together in a special visual effects extravaganza that is more a show of lights and magic than action and suspense. It is inevitable who wins here, so no surprises here at all.

The film ends with the narrator saying that while fairy tales come true, none truly ends, promising an unwelcome sequel to this mess. If that is not enough, director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan is already in the process of a reboot for HIGHLANDER.


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