Review: The Huntsman – Winter’s War (2D)

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Not so much a war as it is a mild kerfuffle.

Showing us the events before and after Snow White’s tale, we see The Huntsman Eric being trained from childhood in the army of the Ice Queen and his Queen’s decent into cruel malice as she searched for The Mirror.

2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman was hit or miss with most audiences, personally I found its visual flare and gothic fairy tale imagery quite endearing and reminded me of the sort of 1980s fantasy films I grew up with. Plus, like most audiences, I felt that Charlize Theron stole the show utterly. So what shall we do? Make an unnecessary sequel that’s also a prequel, ditch the original writers and director (after a certain issue between him and lead star) and put in an Ice Queen to capitalise on the global success of Disney’s Frozen.

Alas, Hemsworth was told he must continue struggling with a… British… Scottish… Irish… accent.

The film is undoubtedly laboured style over substance; most of the dialogue is robotic expository lines and establishing the myriad of conveniences that the story thinks it requires. There really isn’t much at stake here; characters are killed off and revived (one way or another) so often that there’s no weight to anything.
The film has this overwhelming urge to be funny, because a film with themes such as child murder, enslavement, grief and the inability to love really needs to bring the funnies. Returns Nick Frost and introducing fellow Brit comedian Rob Brydon as a dwarf duo. These two and Hemsworth have some truly dire comedic lines. Brydon does surprisingly okay with the material… but only just.

There’s a lot of to’ing and fro’ing with the plot. The worst the film has to offer is when the plot gets derailed after goblins steal the mirror from our heroes, the goblins are clearly able to jump through the tree canopy, but Hemsworth valiantly sacrifices himself by cutting a rope bridge over a gorge of molten gold. A gorge totally covered by tree canopy…

It is a surprisingly boring experience. It has none of its predecessor’s style and visual flair, preferring to drag us around the woods for a long time because the plot demands it. There are literally no action set pieces in the middle of this action fantasy film, it just plods along. Things only get going in the final moments; the last ten minutes are full of magic and action… it is just a shame it took so long to get there!

Theron is still great, but feels side-lined in this story, Emily Blunt as the Ice Queen is surprisingly decent with the material, being both tyrannical and sympathetic. But everything else, book-ended by the lengthy, dour narration from Liam Neeson, is very stagnant.

It is an extremely unnecessary sequel, a deliberate ploy to put Disney’s Frozen’s Elsa into a live action film, and make it a sequel to a film. This is a film made by committee.

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