The Huntsman: Winter’s War is a prequel and sequel all in one to 2012’s Snow White and The Huntsman.
The first quarter covers how the Huntsman came to exist, while also giving us the shocking back story of how Freya turns into the love hating Ice Queen. As the past unfolds, the story moves forward 7 years after Snow White reclaimed her Kingdom from evil Ravenna. A narrator explains what occurred during the 7 year gap in a fairy tale fashion, while he warns that “true evil never dies”.
Charlize Theron returns as Ravenna and Christ Hemsworth as Eric. They are joined by Emily Blunt as Freya/Ice Queen, who happens to be Ravenna’s sister. You’d be excused if you think the Ice Queen looks like a real life evil Elsa. Jessica Chastain plays Sara, another Huntsman and wife of Eric. Though there is a brief flash of Snow White, Kirsten Stewart is nowhere in sight. Clearly the combined talent involved in The Huntsman is unquestionable. Which is a massive draw card for a prequel/sequel to a movie that was so-so at best.
It’s important for a movie, which takes place in magical and evil kingdoms far, far away, to have top notch visual effects and costumes without looking cheap and cluttered. The Huntsman certainly delivers on impressive visuals. The costume designs are spectacularly extravagant in scenes which take place in Freya’s kingdom.
Nick Frost and Sheridan Smith deliver some comedic relief to a story that could have otherwise been dark and repetitive in tone. Oddly, most of the humour was lost on the audience at the premiere I attended. I am certain I was the only one laughing in the room.
Actors and actresses of different ethnic backgrounds are involved in The Huntsman, which is sadly rare to see in movies based on fairy tales. Credit must be given to first time director, Cedric Nicholas-Troyan for that. Neither he nor the writers play into the outdated damsel in distress narrative either, instead they portray both female and male characters as equals on and off battle grounds.
With all of its positives, it also becomes very obvious early in the story that there are weaknesses. Eric and Sarah are meant to be Scottish but unless you pay extremely close attention, you wouldn’t even recognise their accents. Chris Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain play characters who are meant to be much younger than the Ice Queen, yet Hemsworth looks distractingly older and Chastain looks the same age as Blunt. Lastly, the story and the dialogue are not strong enough to draw in audience members to sympathise with or hate any characters.
The Huntsman is a superior film to its predecessor, however, make sure to go in with low expectations like I did. It’s an enjoyable film for an afternoon but it’s not one that will leave you needing to see it again.
I rate it 5 out of 10 stars.
The Huntsman:Winter’s War is in cinemas now.