Movie Review: THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR

by T. Mack

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Universal Pictures listened to us following Snow White and the Huntsman. We didn’t like K-Stew. She’s out. We loved Charlize. She’s back. We hated the underdeveloped and awkward romantic non-plot. This time, love is determined to conquer all. What’s that you say? There was no humor in the last movie? Here you go… jokes, jokes everywhere! Thank you, Universal, for listening. Too bad the result was an entertaining but messy bit of cinema that felt like there were far too many cooks in the kitchen while it was being baked.

In The Huntsman: Winter’s War, the beautiful Charlize Theron and hunky Chris Hemsworth return as the Evil Queen Ravenna and the titular huntsman for this companion film to the 2012 movie, Snow White and the Huntsman.

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Winter’s War is a prequel to the previous film… for a while. About a third of the way in, it becomes a sequel instead. In the prequel portion of the movie, we learn about the Queen’s baby sister, Elsa, I mean Freya, and her army of child soldiers. The hunky huntstman Hemsworth and his lady love are members of said army. Stuff happens. Liam Neeson narrates us past the events of the previous film and we land neatly in the sequel portion of the movie. Here, the huntsman is recruited to find dead Ravenna’s lost mirror mirror (previously on the wall) before Narnia’s Ice Queen, I mean Freya can get her hands on it. And this is where things get a little weird.

The trailers sell this film as a prequel and a visually stunning action movie. However, at the point where the film becomes a sequel, we find out that the movie is also a weirdly paced romantic comedy-adventure. The Huntsman gains two dwarf companions who are essentially Pain and Panic on loan from Disney’s Hercules. They are funny, but just in case their sarcastic quips and silly shenanigans aren’t enough, their female counterparts are introduced (think the Chipettes to Alvin and his crew).

Seriously, the change is so drastic that it’s strangely like watching two different films. And while both are enjoyable, they aren’t totally compatible. So the fact that they’re part of the same movie feels inconsistent, confusing and kind of wrong. It’s like the powers that be couldn’t decide which movie to make so they just made both and pasted them together.

All that being said, though, I’d like to reiterate that both films that make up this movie are enjoyable. The parts that strive for visually stunning action movie get it right. It’s beautiful and the action sequences are fully engaging and fun to watch. The parts that are romantic comedy are as fun and funny as such a film should be. There is even cutesy, married-couple bickering, which is totally adorable. On top of all that, there is also storybook-type narration by Liam Neeson. And as we all know, his voice is smooth “like butta” and just like butter it makes everything better.

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It’s worth noting that the acting in this film is terrific. The entire cast brings serious talent to the table. I did see at least one underused piece of talent in Sophie Cook (Roxy from Kingsman The Secret Service). I can only assume her part was originally meant to be bigger but got cut down for time. Emily Blunt is especially enjoyable, though. She plays two different personalities of Freya perfectly. It’s great watching the internal battle as she struggled to figure out which person she will turn out to be in the end.

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As a bonus, there was a satisfactory amount of smiles from Chris Hemsworth. Those smiles are like yummy, hella-sexy icing on delicious, muscled beef-cake. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Observe:

Told ya!

In the end, The Huntsman: Winter’s War is a strange journey that is part action film, part romantic comedy, but basically, all pretty good. In trying to make up for everything we hated in the previous film, the studio sort of shot themselves in the foot with this one. But it is enjoyable none-the-less and I’m glad I saw it.

Rating: 3.5 SHIELDS

3.5 SG Shields

One more item to note is that one of the main complaints about the previous film is that the movie wanted us to believe Kristen Stewart is more beautiful than Charlize Theron. We all balked because those of us who aren’t seeing-impaired know this to be a ludicrous and ridiculous suggestion. So I was glad that this time around, when the mirror was asked to name the fairest of them all, it gave the correct answer.

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Did you see Snow White and the Huntsman? Will you check out The Huntsman: Winter’s War? Who do you think is the fairest of them all? Let me read your thoughts in the comments.

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