a critiQal film review The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016)

Plot: When ice queen Freya (Blunt) learns of her sister's demise, she summons her soldiers to bring the Magic Mirror home to the only sorceress left who can harness it's power. But once she discovers Raveena (Theron) can be resurrected from its golden depths, the wicked sisters threaten this enchanted land with twice the darkest force it's ever seen. Now, their amassing army shall prove undefeatable...unless banished huntsman Eric (Hemsworth) and warrior Sara (Chastain) can fight their way back to one another.

677 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 23s)

While trying to decided what to watch for this weekend’s review, we had a pretty good selection of new films to choose from. Since movie rentals are included in the price of the resort here in Myrtle Beach (a bonus we hadn’t counted on), we figured the choices would be slim. Instead, it was like having our own redbox®, and it was hard deciding what to watch next. We finally decided on another sequel: The Huntsman: Winter’s War.

While the original film starred that Twilight (2008) gal, The Huntsman: Winter’s War is based more on Chris Hemsworth’s character of the Hunstman. Would this sequel be a good film all on it’s own, or should we have watched the original first?

After his emergence onto the big screen in Thor (2011), Chris Hemsworth has become quite the popular figure in film, and with good reason. His performance in that film was impressive, and he really embodied the character. Even after just the first film, viewers would be hard pressed to imagine anyone else in the role, and now, with several more films under his belt as the god of thunder (including appearances in The Avengers (2012) and it’s sequel), he’s truly cemented himself in that role. But, now he’s branching out (this film, In the Heart of the Sea (2015), etc.), and he’s struggling a bit to make viewers view him as other characters. Daniel Radcliffe (who played Harry Potter) is facing the same chore.

While Radcliffe (so far) hasn’t been able to break away from his first role quite yet (although his recent film Imperium (2016) may help with that), Chris Hemsworth is doing a decent job of spreading out his acting amongst several different roles. He’s comfortable in his role as The Huntsman, and does a decent enough job in The Huntsman: Winter’s War. He’s obviously comfortable in the role, and it’s different enough from his Thunder God persona that this series may help break him from that mold with viewers.

Jessica Chastain, who seems to be everywhere these days, isn’t half bad as the female Huntsman. Like all of her roles, she manages to bring a familiarity to the role even while continuing to expand her repertoire. Viewers will quickly accept her in the role, and she manages to bring some entertainment that the movie sorely needs.

Emily Blunt, playing an ice queen, will instantly conjure up images of Frozen (2013), and Ilsa. Sadly, however, the live-action version can’t quite live up to Disney’s animated ice queen. Viewers will be left wanting more from her, and she just doesn’t deliver.

Charlize Theron, on the other hand, seems to try to over-deliver, and gives viewers a hammy performance that may elicit at least a groan or two. While she is the glue that holds The Huntsman: The Winter’s War together (despite the film desperately trying to use Hemsworth and Chastain as that glue), she’s kind of indicative of the film as a whole – over-the-top and cheesy.

While The Huntsman: Winter’s War tells it’s tired story of love gone twisted, it at first seems like it’s going to be a pretty ho-hum type of film. Lots of action and fighting, not much depth. But, the introduction of love interests for the dwarf companions (one all lovey-dovey, the other snappish) is a great side bit that really gives the film a bit of pep. While Blunt’s quiet queen is a complete downer, Theron proves she’s worthy of the villain title even when she’s not at her best, and gives the heroes something to fight against. That helps as well, and the movie is a bit more entertaining than viewers may have first feared.

However, a silly ending and the continuing inevitable comparisons to Frozen (2013) really hurt The Huntsman: Winter’s War, and viewers may walk away feeling a bit underwhelmed. A decent effort, but without a recognizable story behind it and with ill-timing playing a big part, chances are this series has taken it’s final bow with The Huntsman: Winter’s War. Still, it’s not so bad over all. It’s just not good enough.

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