The Huntsman: Winter’s War: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

The land is suffering because of a Civil War raging between sisters, the Evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) and the Ice Queen (Emily Blunt). Eric The Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) and his “friend” Sara (Jessica Chastain) are members of the Queen Freya’s army. These warriors are taken as children and raised to protect Freya. They are forbidden to love, so in reality they are forbidden to be human. Due to this, The Huntsman and Sara have to conceal their relationship due to fear of what Queen Freya might do to them. They have to deal with their emotional conflicts in conjunction to stopping Ravenna enacting her wicked plans. This movie is a prequel/sequel to Snow White and The Huntsman based on the characters from the Grimm Fairy tales and Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen.

This movie was a “yes” to me as soon as it was announced. The omittance of Kristen Stewart was much-needed as she was the one hindering the first movie’s goodness. That was a serious miscasting and it was a welcome sight to see the lack of Kristen Stewart in the sequel. The movie is supposed to be a prequel but it was more of a sequel. The only bits that I felt warranted the prequel status were the flashback scenes when they were kids. Most of the movie takes place after the events of Snow White & The Huntsmen. And to be fair, I felt confused at stages throughout the movie due to not being able to tell if it was a prequel or sequel. There are continuity issues and that bothered me, whilst viewing the movie. This included such things as blending timelines. I was quite perturbed.

Queen Freya AKA The Ice Queen (Emily Blunt) and The Evil Queen (Charlize Theron) (Universal Pictures, The Huntsman: Winter's War)

Queen Freya AKA The Ice Queen (Emily Blunt) and The Evil Queen (Charlize Theron)
(Universal Pictures, The Huntsman: Winter’s War)

The movie has the elements of any textbook fantasy fairy tale as it was inspired by the Brothers Grimm stories. Magic, goblins, questing, castles, witches and let’s not forget to mention the dwarves in the form of Nion (Nick Frost), Doreena (Alexandra Roach), Gryff (Rob Brydon) and Mrs Bromwyn (Sheridan Smith) in the form of comic relief for the darker take on fairy tales. But like most tales, we have a handsome hero who always saves the day. I believe the dwarves were there for the younger audiences amidst the darkness and grim aura of the movie. Much of the language used seemed very crude and explicit for a movie with a 12 certificate in my opinion but their performances were on point. Nick Frost (Cornetto Trilogy), Rob Brydon (Gavin & Stacey), Sheridan Smith (Cilla, Gavin & Stacey) and Alexandra Roach (Iron Lady) are great actors. With the exception of Roach, they are big names in British comedy and Roach has had various roles in different movies and shows including Utopia, Being Human, Iron Lady and The Testament Of Youth.

I couldn’t help but notice that this movie was very Disney despite it being made by Universal Pictures. The predictability of the characters falling in love as well as the characters themselves. It seemed Freya was darker take on Queen Elsa (Frozen). Freya is what would happen if Elsa ever misused her powers and went to the dark side. We also have Jessica Chastain (The Help) as the warrior Sara, whose weapon of choice is a bow and arrow. Her character and personality seemed too uncanny to that of Merida Of Dunbroch (Brave). She’s a fierce warrior, loyal yet can be cold and not very feminine at all. Plus, it doesn’t help that Disney’s Frozen is inspired by the classic children’s book, The Snow Queen. Coincidence? I think not.

Left To Right: Queen Queen Freya, Queen Elsa, Sara and Merida Of Dunbroch (The Huntsman: Winter's War, Universal Pictures) (Frozen, Brave, Disney)

Left To Right: Queen Freya, Queen Elsa, Sara and Merida Of Dunbroch
(The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Universal Pictures)
(Frozen, Brave, Disney)

The great aspects of this movie are the effects and the action scenes. Let’s be honest, Sara is badass in those fight scenes as well as Chris Hemsworth himself, although she does teach The Huntsman a few lessons in the form of a fist in the face. The fight scenes are truly excellent and the movie is CGI heavy yet it didn’t become annoying like many movies have. I enjoyed the scene in the wood with the goblins and how Chastain and Hemsworth bounced off each other onscreen. A lot of the time, I found the dwarves cringey and the film could have done without them. I also enjoyed the scene in the bar which seemed like it had been a parody of Lord Of The Rings with ‘The Prancing Pony’. Everything in that scene seemed like a rehash but I didn’t really mind. It was a parody of Lord Of The Rings like how Disney had parodied The Godfather in Zootopia.

The acting performances were apt from all the cast except Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road), who was a grade above the rest. She was born to play the Evil Queen and she does the evil witch cackling to perfection. I can even hear it now, nearly two weeks after seeing the movie. It echoed throughout the whole screening room. She’s formidable actress. Her sister Freya, played by Emily Blunt (Sicario) also gave a good performance as The Ice Queen but I found parts seemed unbelievable as in lacklustre (not breathtaking). I think she was miscast to the role but she still gave an apt performance. To be fair, Hemsworth and Chastain who are meant to be leading in the film, were overshadowed by Theron who we didn’t see until three-quarters into the movie. Hemsworth (Age of Ultron) and Chastain’s performance seemed lacking but their love story had been told plenty of times before so it was nothing new.

The Huntsman (Hemsworth) and Sara (Chastain) (The Huntsman: Winter's War, Universal Pictures)

The Huntsman (Hemsworth) and Sara (Chastain)
(The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Universal Pictures)

In conclusion, there are so many movies and television series based on fairy tales, that when a new one comes along it feels like you’re seeing the same story again. That being said, I have yet to see an accurate adaptation of the Grimm Fairy Tales. Once Upon A Time have come the closest with their representation of Snow White and The Huntsman in Season 1 but are restricted by the PG-13 rating on ABC and being a Disney product. I say it needs to be done in an American Horror Story-esque fashion on HBO, Netflix or FX as an anthology series.

As a sequel or prequel to Snow White & The Huntsman, it is nothing more than good. If you’re going in as a casual film watcher it’s very entertaining but if you have knack for picking apart movies, than you will disappointed. I went in with an open mind and I admit it had its faults but it was very entertaining and I enjoyed it for the most part.

A magical, fun flick to watch with all the family