"The Huntsman: Winter's War"
Release Date: April 22, 2016
Running Time: 123 minutes
A mediocre spinoff to 2012’s equally mediocre live-action fairy tale Snow White and the Huntsman, The Huntsman: Winter’s War does not feature the eponymous princess for all the wrong reasons. Universal reportedly choose not to move forward with a direct sequel after Kristen Stewart’s onset affair with her married director Rupert Sanders went public. As luck would have it, Chris Hemsworth’s star was on the ascent thanks to his contributions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, giving Universal the confidence to move forward with The Huntsman on the assumption that audiences would not miss Stewart all that much. While it’s sad to see a Hollywood studio punish an actress in this manner, Stewart emerges the winner here. She never seemed engaged as Snow White, and as her true passion now lies with making independent films that challenge her as an actress, she probably would have made her way through a sequel with genuine apathy. Instead, The Huntsman conveniently sidelines Snow White by afflicting her with an illness that is directly related to the Magic Mirror she obtained after the death of Charlize Theron’s Queen Ravenna. When the mirror is stolen, Hemsworth’s Eric the Huntsman is dispatched to retrieve it before it ends up in the hands of Ravenna’s war-hungry sister, Emily Blunt’s Freya, aka the Ice Queen. Yes, this spinoff is heavily influenced by Frozen. Imagine a grief-stricken Elsa kidnapping every child beyond the borders of her kingdom so she could be the mother to them that she could not be to her murdered baby daughter. Only love is banned in her frozen tundra of a kingdom, as Eric well knows. He was one of the children “raised”—along with his true love, Sara (Jessica Chastain)—as soldiers in the Ice Queen’s army, as shown in events depicted before he teamed with Snow White to overthrow Queen Ravenna. Now it’s now down to the Eric, Sara and four dwarfs (including the returning Nick Frost) to bring down the Ice Queen. While The Huntsman looks stunning, and features some top-notch special effects, director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan doesn’t bring much excitement to The Huntsman. The trip undertaken by these six brave souls proves to be long and tedious, with the action sequences predictably and unremarkably staged. Blunt makes for an inconspicuous villainess. She and the script credited to Evan Spiliotopoulos and Craig Mazin make her more misguided than evil, and while this informs every moment of The Huntsman, it doesn’t make her particularly threatening or fearsome. Which explains the return of Charlize Theron’s Queen Ravenna. It’s a desperate and unnecessary move that undermines The Huntsman’s effort to distance itself from Snow White. The hammy Theron’s presence serves as a constant reminder of Stewart’s absence. Not that Hemsworth seems to miss Stewart very much. He and the typically tenacious Chastain enjoy a strong rapport that makes The Huntsman tolerable on occasion, even if their Scottish accents are dubious at best. That’s not to say they do enough in The Huntsman to warrant them setting off on an another adventure together in this derivative franchise. But The Huntsman does leave you wanting Hemsworth and Chastain to reunite for a film that’s worthy of their time and talent.
Aired: April 21, 2016
Web site: http://www.thehuntsmanmovie.com/