Main cast: Chris Hemsworth (Eric the Huntsman), Jessica Chastain (Sara), Emily Blunt (Queen Freya), Nick Frost (Nion), Rob Brydon (Gryff), Sheridan Smith (Mrs Bromwyn), Alexandra Roach (Doreena), and Charlize Theron (Queen Ravenna)
Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
The Huntsman: Winter’s War is linked to Snow White and the Huntsman, a movie that was more famous for the love affair between the director and the lead actress, one that tore the dreams of prepubescents all over the world. This one seems to lack any marketing gimmick other than being that movie in which Elsa gone mad and tried to kill Thor because he has a girlfriend and those two are trying to get hold of a mirror that Elsa wanted.
At any rate, the people behind this movie believe that we need more of Eric the Huntsman, although I personally can’t imagine why. Chris Hemsworth has a nice smile, but he displays the acting range of a wadded-up piece of tissue paper. In this one, we learn that the Huntsmen are actually Queen Freya’s “children”.
What happens is this: ages ago, Queen Ravenna has a sister named Freya. There was no mention of her in the previous movie, but hey, who cares, right? Long ago, Freya and some bloke fell in love and they had a baby out of wedlock. Ravenna told her that the bloke was betrothed to another, so he would break Freya’s heart, but Freya was convinced that the bloke would come back for her and her daughter. Well, he did… to torch the baby to death while claiming that he “had to do it”. At that moment, Freya went berserk with rage and her power awakened: she is actually Elsa, ooh. Freya took off to the northern lands, where she carved out her own kingdom of ice. She killed every adult in her way, and took in the children so that they could be trained to be her loyal soldiers. Her law was simple: these children must never love because love is a lie that weakens one, blah blah blah.
Well, Eric and Sara were in love and they boinked their way into a plan: they would run away together! Alas, Freya’s owl spied on them and now the Queen knew of their plan. Those two were caught in the act and, in the resulting fight, Freya cast a spell so that, in Eric’s mind, Sara was killed while in Sara’s mind, Eric fled. That was how Eric ended up drunk and blue in the previous movie – Sara was the wife he was mourning non-stop over.
Cut to present day. Snow White has destroyed Ravenna… but her mirror still exists and it is apparently driving the poor dear mad. Well, that’s a good excuse as any not to have Kristen Stewart’s bitch face here, so I’ll take it. She has the mirror taken away to be consigned to some make-believe magical land of la-la-wee, so that the mirror would never work its evil magic on anyone again, but the mirror goes missing. Snow White’s husband, Third-Rate Robert Pattinson, tells Eric to go look for the mirror and make sure that it ends up where it should be. Due to budget cuts, only four dwarves show up here: Nion and his half-brother Gryff, along with the female dwarves Mrs Bromwyn and her companion Doreena.
Naturally, Freya learns of the mirror and wants it too.
To Eric’s pleasant surprise, Sara shows up too, apparently having broken out of Ravenna’s dungeon and now wanting revenge on her husband for abandoning her. But when she learns of the good guys’ plan, she decides that she’d stick around too, to ensure that the mirror ends up where it should be. Since Freya wants the mirror, any plan that sticks it to Freya is A-OK with Sara. Eric is very happy because this is his chance to get back with a wife that he thought was lost to him forever.
On paper, the plot seems alright, but the movie is actually a mess. Director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan is fully in charge at the helm for the first time, and his inexperience may explain the draggy pacing and clumsily handled scenes here. Scenes that are meant to be funny make me groan due to poor timing of the punchlines or, more often the case, how overplayed and banal the whole thing is. There are some lovely CGI stuff here, but all of that is wasted on a movie that feels more hammy than anything else.
But more obnoxious is the fact that this movie is quite schizophrenic. Yes, wisecracking main characters can be fun to watch, but the main characters here often break out into wisecracks at moments that either make them seem deranged or trivialize any emotional impact of the scene. Eric and Sara have a relationship that could have been full of pathos and such, but here, they get back together as if they were teenagers who met at Spring Break only to be separated by the cruel start of the next school term. And yet, despite the superficial portrayal of love in this movie, it rams home the whole “Love! Love will conquer every crap! Just love and nothing can stop us!” thing down the throat with all the subtlety of a deranged Care Bear wielding a pickax.
It is a shame that this movie is basically a bad SyFy thing masquerading as a big budget movie, because the character of Freya has a lot of potential – she’s Elsa with an abusive, rather than supportive, sister with tragic consequences. Oh, and it shouldn’t be a spoiler that Ravenna isn’t dead, as Charlize Theron’s face is plastered all over the publicity materials, and this time she gets an upgrade, now with shadow tentacle powers. Even the romance between Eric and Sara could have been grand, as it deals with so many issues such as heartbreak, betrayal, et cetera – all the ingredients for a great love story. Unfortunately, the script doesn’t know whether it wants to be a kiddie movie or something for the older crowd (hence the presence of occasional innuendo-laden lines amidst the more hammy kiddie-friendly scenes), and it ends up portraying everything in a most superficial and often silly manner.
Oh, and once again Chris Hemsworth is clothed from neck to toe. Sure, there are some pretty arm muscles on show now and then, and the pants are loose enough around the crotch to give some intriguing bulges now and then if you are really that desperate for male eye candy, but those tight pants also strongly suggest that his ass is as flat as a waffle grill. If he had been running around in only a loincloth or something, his wooden acting may be forgiven, but alas, that is not to be. Also, if you study the people in the movie too closely, you may end up realizing that these people all wear the same clothes despite traveling supposedly for miles and weeks, and they go through battles and what not with these clothes still looking pristine.
The Huntsman: Winter’s War may be worth a watch if you suffer from a rare disease that would slowly and painfully kill you unless you watch badly made movies on a regular basis, or if you are a proud family member of an extra in this movie. Otherwise, wait for it to show up on cable or Netflix, when there is nothing better for you to do.