Much like Snow White And The Huntsman, The Huntsman: Winter’s War continues the trend of being absolutely stunning from a visual standpoint.
It’s probably more gorgeous than the first, if that was even possible. It might have something to do with the fact that the first film’s visual effects supervisor, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, graduated to director for this one. If you’re a sucker for fantasy landscapes and world building, Winter’s War is worth going to see for that aspect of it alone.
But the visual effects are one of the few things it has going for it. As devastatingly pretty as it is, Winter’s War is also kind of boring. There’s not that much to the plot, and what is there is often predictable. Many of the set pieces that have been woven in have little to do with the grand scheme of things, to the point where they might as well come with a big sign reading ‘we needed the film to be longer’ written in giant flashing letters.
The threat, of which there is actually quite a lot, is also a bit lack-lustre. Even though the story is being sold as a ‘dark retelling’ of the old fairy tale, it’s kind of obvious how it’s all going to work out. To be fair it’s extraordinarily dark in places, especially for a 12A (think burning babies), but even that isn’t enough to overpower the frequent dullness.
One of the film’s biggest problems is that the story (and handful of plot twists) has a tendency not to make sense. Sure, it’s a fantasy, and sure, characters in fantasies often find sneaky and magical loopholes to get out of trouble, but when the loopholes are coming out to play in what feels like every other scene, they get old very quickly. The peril gets less and less convincing as the film plays out, and frankly it’s annoying.
Winter’s War is occasionally pretty funny, especially after Rob Brydon, Sheridan Smith and Alexandra Roach joined Nick Frost as the film’s resident comic relief band of dwarves, but the jokes, which start out strong, quickly melt into characters just shouting out typical British obscenities in exchange for cheap laughs that don’t always arrive.
However, Chris Hemsworth continues to be charming and extremely likeable as Eric the Huntsman, and carries the film very well. He’s its heart and soul, and it gets easier and easier to really care about him and his problems as the film plays out.
Even if the script is so-so and the plot is flimsy and transparent, the impressive cast do a good job of pretending they’re not.Charlize Theron is as deliciously evil and menacing as she was in the first film as Queen Ravenna, Emily Blunt is intriguing and fabulous as Ravenna’s sister Freya the Ice Queen, and Jessica Chastain is a fun addition to the cast as Eric’s warrior wife Sara, even if it is difficult to understand her fake Scottish accent at times.
Even with its failings, Snow White And The Huntsman stood out from the rest of the live-action fairy tales being spewed out right now because it was positive, very feminist retelling. It might have been a bit dull and predictable but it was also empowering.
You would think Winter’s War would be even more feminist, what with two new female leads being added, one of which is a warrior and the other a powerful ice queen, but it turns out that it’s really not. Winter’s War would have really benefited from taking over the empowerment torch. Instead, it’s almost two hours’ worth of women betraying each other.
The ice queen literally turns evil because she loses her baby. What is that about?
Check out our video review of The Huntsman: Winter’s War here.