‘I’ ON CULTURE
Let’s make it simple. The Huntsman: Winter’s War is a stinker. Clearly, Universal Pictures wanted to turn the non-enormous success of Snow White and the Huntsman into a franchise, so it churned out this film. Unfortunately, there is no coherent storyline. Imagine Snow White without, well, Snow White. We almost have that here.
Although three spectacularly good actresses are in the movie, they are really supporting players. Charlize Theron (Ravenna) is back as the evil queen, whose reason for evil is disappointed love. She is a great actress, having won an Academy Award. Yet she appears briefly at the beginning and end of the film and seems to have no part in the plot except to use the magic of computer graphics to create special effects.
Emily Blunt, another top actress who might well win an Oscar, plays Ravenna’s sister, Freya. She is a bit different from Ravenna in that her magic consists of sending out ice arrows to kill people. But then again, she has had an emotional problem or two.
In each land Freya conquers, she grabs up all the babies and trains them to be ruthless soldiers, ready to conquer the next land. Sara (Jessica Chastain) is one of them. Chastain, of course, is a top actress as well.
With three great actresses in the picture, it is only fitting that the main character, Eric, the “Huntsman” (Chris Hemsworth), is played by a performer better noted for his pectoral muscles than acting skills.
To make things even worse, the film is divided into two sections, separated by what happened in the first movie. I mean, who cares about Snow White when we can look at a lot of nonsense that barely connects to anything else?
At the start we see Ravenna and Freya, both unhappy. Ravenna learns that her sister Freya has a beautiful child who will be incredibly beautiful when grown. Somehow (not too hard to figure out) the child is murdered. Freya builds an ice palace (Frozen, anyone?) and creates her child army. Two of the best warriors, Eric and Sara, fall in love, but she uses illusion to make them believe the other is dead or imprisoned.
After the Snow White “thing,” Eric finds out that the famed Magic Mirror was stolen. Eric, along with a couple of dwarfs (now we’re into Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings territory), Nion (Nick Frost) and Gryff (Bob Brydon), go off to find it. They join with Sara and two female dwarfs, Bromwyn (Sheridan Smith) and Doreena (Alexandra Roach), and get the mirror.
Betrayed by Sara, the two male dwarfs are turned into ice statues. Sara shoots Eric, while Freya gets the mirror. When Freya uses it, however, she finds out that the mirror is actually Ravenna, and she also finds out Ravenna put a curse on her baby’s father to kill the child. As a result, we have another battle.
Once good triumphs over evil, everyone celebrates… unless you listen to my advice and avoid the movie.
The acting by the women is great. Theron and Blunt get to do major emoting, easy to do as angry witches. Theron, in particular, is a great villain. While doing a nice job, Blunt looked a little detached… like maybe wanting to be anywhere else. Chastain does her usual good job. The part might have been dumb, but she comes across well.
Hemsworth really could use some acting lessons. He’s great in the action bits but not good at showing feelings. The four dwarfs were good, although written as sort of Cockney write-offs — perhaps a tip of the cap to Tolkien? The dwarfs are full-sized actors, by the way. Do you think there are no dwarfs who can act? Speak to Peter Dinklage.
People come and go in the film. At least two of the major stars seem to die but keep on working anyway. It is a mess. I will grant it is a beautiful mess; the effects are beautiful, the sets (many of which look like they are computer graphics) are stunning.
This is a stupid movie. Please don’t go. If you don’t go, they might not make another sequel that I will have to sit through.