The Huntsman: Winter's War review
When Star Wars was released, there was a whole galaxy of science fiction movies that weren’t just trying to borrow ideas it, but flat out duplicate it with works such as Battle Beyond the Stars and Krull. The reason for the sudden attack from copycats is that everyone always wants to imitate off of what’s popular. It happened with Star Wars and it also happened in the fantasy genre when Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter came out. Each fantasy film that was released did everything to make sure their movies were on that similar scale. One such movie from 2012 was Snow White and the Huntsman.
The movie came out around the same time when adapting fairy tales into epics were a major thing (it also came out close to the dreadful Mirror, Mirror). Snow White and the Huntsman wasn’t bad, but it was story that was simply forgettable. But being it made money at the box office, it was without a doubt that a sequel would get produced. But then Frozen happened in 2013. This set a new standard on what fairy tale movies should be. You can tell in The Huntsman: Winter’s War that too wanted to get in on the Frozen hype.
At first, the movie is a prequel showing the evil sorceress Ravenna (played by Charlize Theron) has a younger sister Freya (played by Emily Blunt) who has yet to discover her magical powers. A set up from Ravenna tricks Freya into thinking that her lover has killed her child. This causes the reveal of Freya’s ice powers when she freezes her flame. This also gives Freya motivation to take an army, invade another kingdom, and declare it who own icy reign. She then sets up a system of kidnapping children to build them a part of her army. One of these children is a younger Eric.
Eric (played by Chris Hemsworth) grows into a strong young man who also falls for a fellow warrior Sara (played by Jessica Chastain). Freya has forbidden love in her kingdom, so she creates an ice wall that supposedly shows the death of Sara. This causes Eric to retreat to Ravenna’s kingdom.
Cut to seven years after the events of the first movie, Eric is informed that the magic mirror was taken and could prove to be a vital threat to Snow White’s kingdom. Accompanied by two dwarves Nion (played by Nick Frost) and Gryff (played by Rob Brydon) he ventures on another adventure to find the mirror and defeat Freya.
While a sequel does seem unnecessary, I do think there was potential in giving the Huntsman his own story. Unfortunately, not only does this suffer some of the same problems as the original, it creates new ones. Pacing wise, it’s all over the place with a dull introduction to try an explain Emily Blunt’s role as a sister years before, simply taking too long for the actual plot to get going.
Speaking of which, you can tell that Emily Blunt must have been under contract, because she’s gives very little investment into her ice queen character who only seems to be evil as her personality. This is strange as the rest of that cast seems to be trying their best, but the script gives them very little to work with.
I’ll admit that the design and the effects are still pretty good, but is that enough? Well…part of me can’t shake the feeling that the movie is really relying on the Disney success of movies like Frozen and Brave, which feel present through this. The audience I sat with seemed to sense the same thing, which was that The Huntsman: Winter’s War is nothing more an attempted “cash grab” at what’s popular with fantasy.
I’ll give this two ice walls out of five. I barley remember what happened in Snow White and the Huntsman and I’ll doubt I’ll remember the entirety of The Huntsman: Winter’s War. If Universal really wants to follow Disney and Frozen, perhaps they should stop playing copycat and “Let it Go”.