In 2012, when I was still writing reviews for a personal blog, I faced the task of watching two ‘adaptations’ of the Snow White story. One, Mirror, Mirror, was a fun little jaunt filled with laughter and wry wit. Plus it cast little people as the dwarves. Then there was Snow White and the Huntsman which boasted an awesome performance by Charlize Theron and absolutely nothing else I would ever recommend. Also, the ‘dwarves’ were real actors ‘shrunk’ by CGI. Which, while technically impressive, seemed kinda douchey to me.
So, of course the film to get a sequel is Snow White and the Huntsman! Yes, I saw The Huntsman: Winter’s War and prayed that I would not sleep through 30 minutes of the film like I did with the first one.
The good news for you is that I stayed awake the entire time. The bad news for me is that I stayed awake the entire time.
In an interesting bid to explain everything as slowly as possible, Huntsman starts off by telling the story of Freya (Emily Blunt), the sister of Charlize Theron’s Ravenna. It shows her change from Ravenna’s innocent, caring sister into a cold-hearted witch with ice powers. (Her name is Freya, this movie is not very inventive.) She then strikes out on her own to claim a kingdom to rival her sister’s. In order to become more powerful, she builds an army by taking children from their homes and training them to be heartless and loyal.
Also, love is outlawed. Because that is apparently enforceable.
Two of those children are our titular huntsman Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain), a young lady who is arguably the best warrior out of all the huntsmen/women. Of course, they eventually *gasp* fall in love! Because of this, things happen and eventually Eric is cast out and left for dead.
This brings us to seven years later, which coincidentally is just after the events of Snow White. Yes, this film continually jumps several years in order to fully flesh out an incredibly boring story (at least it’s narrated by Liam Neeson). In the ‘right now’ portion of the movie, Snow White has ordered the magic mirror be taken to a place referred to only as Sanctuary so that its evil powers will no longer be felt within her kingdom. Naturally things go wrong and the mirror never makes it to the intended destination.
Enter (re-enter? re-re-re enter?) Eric, who is now tasked to find the mirror before it can fall into evil hands. His only allies are two *sigh* dwarves, Nion (Nick Frost, the only recurring dwarf from the original) and his half-brother Gryff (Rob Brydon). As always within a film like this, the bad guys (Freya and her loyal huntsmen/women) are also looking for the mirror so lots of supposed chaos and action ensues.
Except, nothing fun happens. For a sequel it seems to have learned absolutely nothing from the original. This one is also boring, poorly paced, too-serious and just plain crap. The very few moments of levity are so few and far between that they don’t bring a laugh so much as remind you of what this film could have been with some decent writing. I don’t need a comedy, but when your plot is this droll I need a reason to care. I certainly didn’t get it from any character development since this movie is almost entirely comprised of one-dimensional characters. Even Charlize Theron is subdued throughout most of her scenes. This is a real shame because she was the only person I praised for her acting in the original.
The only ‘good’ thing I can say is that this film is absolutely gorgeous. Someone obviously put a lot of detail into all the scenery and many of the backdrops are simply stunning. It’s just a shame that none of that care was put into everything happening in the foreground.
My recommendation? Stay away from The Huntsman: Winter’s War unless you want to see some very good actors putting out a very bad performance.
The Huntsman: Winter's War
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Nick Frost, Sam Claflin, Rob Brydon, and Jessica Chastain
Directed by: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Written by: Evan Spiliotopoulos and Craig Mazin
Running time: 114 minutes