Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chastain, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Nick Frost, Rob Brydon, Sheridan Smith, Alexandra Roach, Sope Dirisu, Sam Hazeldine, Sam Claflin | Written by Evan Spiliotopoulos, Craig Mazin | Directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Looking back at Snow White and the Huntsman, I remember liking it but the movie itself was overshadowed by the drama behind the scenes. This may be one reason I was surprised with the announcement of The Huntsman: Winter’s War. Unsurprisingly though, Kristen Stewart is not part of this one… but does it manage to deliver without Snow White’s presence?
This time, The Huntsman is somewhat of a prequel as well as a sequel to the first film. We see Ravenna (Charlize Theron) up to no good, but also the introduction of Freya (Emily Brunt) her sister. When Freya’s heart is broken her resultant transformation to the Ice Queen brings about the introduction of a young Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) and his love Sara (Jessica Chastain).
The pulling apart of Eric (Hemsworth) and Sara sets up another fairy-tale storyline which encompasses the years before the story of Snow White and her battles with Ravenna. We see them fall in love, then to be ripped apart by Freya in her hatred of love. While this is a predictable setup (it is easy to work out what is coming) it is also nice and works well with what The Huntsman: Winter’s War is set out to be.
To connect this film with the first we also have the reintroduction of the magic mirror which has gone missing. It is obvious that the film wants to keep things simple, and the story is fed to us in a way that is easy to digest, which may be the main weakness of the film .
With The Huntsman: Winter’s War it becomes obvious quite quickly that the fair-tale world is much more interesting than the story that is taking place within it. It really is a world of magic where there is much more going on in the background than with the main characters. While this is an issue to some extent, it is also fair to say though that while the film does lack real depth it is still entertaining.
When it comes to the cast, Hemsworth plays his part well, though there is not much to it. The real stars in this one are the females. Charlize Theron seems to relish the chance to be the evil queen once more, and Jessica Chastain plays the confused hero of the piece well. The real star here though is Queen Freya herself, Emily Blunt who does steal every scene she is in and creates a memorable character in a movie that sometimes tends to lose focus on its own plot.
If you are a lover of the dwarves, you will find you are in for a treat this time too. Nick Frost makes a return as Nion, and this time brings Rob Brydon along as his brother. Sheridan Smith and Alexandra Roach also make an appearance as female dwarves (but lack bears which Discworld fans may question). Amusingly, Sheridan Smith and Rob Brydon work very well together providing much-needed comic relief.
For fans of fairy-tale films, there is much to love about The Huntsman: Winter’s War with many references to fantasy worlds such as Narnia and even a touch of Frozen in there. While there are many flaws to the movie, The Huntsman: Winter’s War is entertaining and provides much of what it needs to give. Just don’t expect it to give much more than that.
The Huntsman: Winter’s War is available on DVD and Blu-ray now.