The Huntsman: Winter’s War

Posted on April 21, 2016 at 5:11 pm

Copyright 2016 Universal
Copyright 2016 Universal
With a storyline as awkward and unfocused as its unwieldy title, “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” is like a mashup of “Frozen,” “Lord of the Rings,” and the Narnia movies, without any of the heart or imagination of any of them.

It’s both a prequel and a sequel to a movie no one was all that eager to see, with only 48 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes and one of those counted as positive didn’t muster much enthusiasm: “This Snow White may not be the fairest of them all, but sometimes, especially during the heat of summer, fair-to-middling does just fine.” This one is more middling than fair.

In the first film, the evil Ravenna (Charlize Theron) bewitched a king, killed him on their wedding night, and locked his daughter in a tower. Then, when she grew up to be Kristen Stewart and threatened to challenge Ravenna’s status as the fairest of them all, Ravenna ordered the Huntsman with no name to kill Snow White and bring back her heart so Ravenna could eat it and achieve permanent fairness.

In this film, we see Ravenna murder her husband, the king, over a game of chess, and we meet her sister, Freya (Emily Blunt), who is in love and pregnant. Her sister is the one with the magical powers. Freya has none — or so she thinks. But when she is faced with the ultimate loss and betrayal, all of a sudden she discovers her power, or, should I say, she lets it go. Yes, she is the queen of cold and ice. So, she leaves and takes over her own queendom, where her primary occupation is stealing children, telling them that love is illegal, and turning them into fighting machines, with freezing things a close second. Two children grow up to be world-class fighters and to be Chris Hemsworth (this time he gets a name: Eric) and Jessica Chastain as Sara. They break the big rule, and Freya punishes them terribly. Eventually, Eric ends up trying to find the magic mirror, complicated because it was stolen by goblins and because it exerts an evil “Fellowship of the Ring”-style power over anyone who looks into it. He is accompanied by two dwarves, played by Nick Frost and “The Trip’s” Rob Brydon, when, as I pointed out before, little people characters should be played by little people actors. They come across two female dwarves. One is played by Sheridan Smith, who, with Colleen Atwood’s gorgeous costumes, provides the movie’s few bright moments.

The storyline makes even less sense than the first one, with (SPOILER ALERT) repeated reliance on that weakest of plot twists, the character you are supposed to think is dead who turns out to be still alive. Blunt and Theron are game but given little to do but strut and declaim. Chris Hemsworth manages to bring his character to life and there are some striking visuals, but that can’t make up for a dreary mess.

Parents should know that this film features extended fantasy peril and violence, characters injured and killed including an infant, monster, some disturbing images, sexual references and situation, some strong language and crude comments.

Family discussion: What happened when Eric looked in the mirror? Why were so many of the huntsmen loyal to Freya?

If you like this, try: “Stardust” and “Jack the Giant Slayer”

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