Following the cheating scandal involving star Kristen Stewart and director Rupert Sanders, the sequel to “Snow White and the Huntsman”became simply “The Huntsman” and later “The Huntsman: Winters War.” Now after all of that, we finally get to see if it was all worth it.
Depending on your definition of a good movie, the movie is both a success and a failure. Here, my idea of a good movie is one that makes sense within the world that it has established, is well-acted and well- scripted and looks good. “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” hits some of those points, but its biggest reason for being a failure lies in betraying its own world building.
In THWW, we are shown the origin of Freya(Emily Blunt) as the Ice Queen when her lover kills her baby in a fire. She heads north to establish her own kingdom and takes in the children of conquered cities to train as huntsmen. We see Eric(Chris Hemsworth) and Sara(Jessica Chastain) grow into adult warriors and fall in love, despite the law of the land being “not to fall in love.” Ok.
After Freya separates the two, we jump forward to see Eric found in the woods by William(Sam Claflin), sent by Snow White to assist in the removal of Ravenna’s(Charlize Theron) mirror to sanctuary. It is this mission that leads to Sara and Eric being reunited, albeit under less than truthful circumstances by the third act of the movie. When they eventually track the mirror to Freya, she has somehow released her sister, leading to a battle to finally end Ravenna for good, once more.
Fans of the first film will remember Finn, Ravenna’s brother and ally. Here he has been ret-conned in favor of Freya, the Ice Queen. The other contradiction is with the character of Sara. In the first film it is heavily implied that Finn raped and murdered her, leading Eric to kill him. Here, we are shown that Freya tricked Eric into believing she had died at the hands of the group of huntsmen working to keep them apart, when in fact she did not die and was tricked herself into believing that Eric had fled in an act of cowardice.
With those two contradictions out-of-the-way, the fun is again an example of visual beauty, from both the scenery to the magnificent costuming. The dialogue is funnier, and more adult oriented with quite a few innuendo. Overall, the plotting behind the movie is easy to follow, if a little slow to get started and keep up the momentum. It doesn’t help that there is a nearly 30 minute narration over the start of the film, provided by none other than Liam Neeson. If you need that much narration to explain your story, best get back in and do some rewrites I think.
Freya is the weakest link in this movie. While her motives are understandable, her methods are a little out there, and once Ravenna arrives back on the scene, she fades into the background, seemingly afraid of her sister. It is only when Freya has the epiphany about the true nature of the tragedy that set her off on this path that she finally grows a spine to face down her sister. It is this Freya we want to root for in the face of a crowing Ravenna, but we only get a short time to do so.
THWW may suffer from continuity issues, but it’s still the prettiest movie we’ve seen this year and is still an enjoyable story to see unfold.