The Huntsman: Winter’s War – Review

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Though littered with engaging adventure sequences, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan’s prequel/sequel/schmequal to 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman makes for a truly entertaining cinematic experience. Yet outside of the handful of moments that will have you gripped, comes a thin, mostly inane narrative that comes devoid of any true sense of linearity.

Our tale begins prior to the events of the preceding production, meeting the nefarious antagonist Ravenna (Charlize Theron) and witnessing that distinctive trait of jealousy that runs through her, this time aimed at her sister Freya (Emily Blunt) whom she resents for falling in love. Though it’s not a relationship she needs to envy for much longer, following the death of Freya’s child, sending the grieving mother spiralling down a dark and demented path, as she seeks to use her special ice powers to build an army, kidnapping children from across the kingdom, and hammering home the point that there is no such thing as love.

Two of the children grow up to be fine warriors in Sara (Jessica Chastain) and Eric the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), though they defy their leader’s most stringent rule, and they fall in love with one another. When she finds out about it, she cruelly sets them apart and banishes the latter from her land. Fast forward several years (now beyond the narrative of the first endeavour) and The Huntsman is out to stop Freya from getting her hands on the mirror, travelling miles alongside two trusty dwarves in Nion (Nick Frost) and Gryff (Rob Brydon) to reach the immensely powerful item before she does.

The film thrives in its comedic tendencies, allowing both Frost and Brydon room to flourish, even tapping in to their distinctive sensibilities as comedians, which is seldom seen in blockbusters of this nature. Conversely, the film is lacking in a more fearful antagonist, for Freya remains in the shadow of her sister Ravenna and as such you don’t take her seriously enough, always feeling she can be defeated, without that vital sense of formidability. How can Freya be the most feared villain in the kingdom? She isn’t even the most feared villain in her family.

Nonetheless the credentials of this hugely impressive ensemble cast help matters tremendously, with the new-members to the franchise, in Blunt and Chastain, both impressing as you would expect them to. That being said, however, the latter’s Scottish accent leaves a lot to be desired. It’s even worse than Hemsworth’s, which is saying something.

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About Stefan Pape

Stefan Pape is a film critic and interviewer who spends most of his time in dark rooms, sipping on filter coffee and becoming perilously embroiled in the lives of others. He adores the work of Billy Wilder and Woody Allen, and won’t have a bad word said against Paul Giamatti.

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