Pardon the lack of updates lately, mostly due to my hectic life. It’s been a hell of a year, with things after things piling up rapidly. But I assume my random ramblings aren’t the reason you’re here. You’re probably here because you’re curious- how does the forgettable Snow White film’s sequel/prequel fare? Is it just another blatant attempt to rip-off some money from people? Or is this a genuine work of art? Is this film justified, especially since nobody was really looking forward to this anyways?
Honestly, I can’t help but point out- Huntsman Winter’s War is rather pointless. As a franchise piece, it definitely tries to bridge the gap between this film and Snow White and the Huntsman, through the addition of several Snow White references. Prerequisite knowledge is required for these references, alongside some plot beats, and that kinda sucks, since the first film was pretty much forgettable. Many caught the original film due to its title character- Snow White. Many just wanted to see a darker, slightly-revamped origin story to Snow White. Nobody was actually craving to spend more time with the Huntsman- yeah, Chris Hemsworth was (and is) as charming as always, but we don’t wanna spend more time with the Huntsman character, right? Unfortunately, Universal was kinda unclear about that, and ordered for this film anyways, as far back as in 2012.
Okay, yeah, everything I’ve mentioned above has got to do with whether the existence of such a film is justified. But yeah, money spent is money unretrievable, so how does the final product fare? Well, let’s just say- not that great. (And let me first warn you that there are minor spoilers ahead). Huntsman: Winter’s War is a bore at times, filled with cringe-worthy dialogues which probably got manufactured by some kids during their playtime. Yeah, the film is trying to bring up one message- true love ultimately emerges on top- but yet fails extraordinarily by its own undoing. Firstly (SPOILERS, GUYS, I’M WARNING YOU), Sara’s (Chastain) death would have been that much more impactful had she been left dead. Unfortunately, Huntsman decides to play around with twists, and probably thinking how much of a waste it would have been on such great talent (Chastain, after all, is an amazing actress) to simply kill them off within 10 minutes of on screen time, decides to think of some lame excuse for her survival. All the more disappointing, considering marketing was hinting at her death. And yeah, her apparent survival only downplays the threat that Freya (Blunt) presents, and only lowers any subsequent stakes present. In fact, this film plays around with the concept of death and ‘Oh, you got fooled!!!’ so much that it ultimately feels lame and prevents us from having that emotional investment in any of the characters.
To make up for the somewhat ridiculous plot, there’s thankfully a great deal of action sequences scattered throughout the film. They are fairly typical and unoriginal that you probably won’t remember them after the film, but they make up for the otherwise boring progression. There’s also a fantastic cast which director Cedric Nicholas-Troyan has on his hands- he has three of the hottest female stars in Hollywood today, and Chris Hemsworth- and they are probably the ones which have salvaged this film a great deal. All of them are great, bringing life to their otherwise one-dimensional characters. Thankfully, we got them (since it made sitting through this film far less of an ordeal).
It’s of course fantastic that the franchise has stayed true to its cause in maintaining gender equality- after all, few films in Hollywood can boast to having such a well-rounded cast led by both females and males- in fact, I’m proud to say that Huntsman: Winter’s War only has one male lead, and three female leads that get equal attention on marketing and posters. It’s easy to eliminate Snow White and make this film male-centric, but thankfully it’s not the case. And yeah, the few moments where Chastain’s character simply kicks ass and save Eric. That’s probably a big message to Hollywood- females can kick some butts too.
In terms of character development, it’s with outright sadness that I inform you- the two major protagonists in this film are pretty one-dimensional. Ravenna (Theron) feels like a desperate attempt to bring this film firmly into the Snow White universe- after all, without her or any of the references, nothing in this film feels Snow White at all. Her character feels redundant and disposable- after all, she barely appears until the final sequence- and let’s not bring up the fact that this series refuses to let her die (since without her, there isn’t any connection to the Snow White tale!!!). Blunt’s character probably feels like the only character who got an arc in the first place- it’s really a pity she ultimately dies, since I would rather she take the place of Ravenna (in continually coming back for the countless amount of sequels Universal would move forward with if this film succeeds). It’s with Blunt that we can truly connect with- so much so that I can boldly claim that she’s one of the better villains cinema has ever seen in years (that’s not exaggerating, by the way). She truly has a cause and an utterly disastrous memory which we can all root for, and relate to. We see both her soft side and her harsh side. And we have a villain who actually cares for her close ones (in this case her ‘children’, whom she isn’t willing to kill or let anyone hurt). When Ravenna threatens to wreck havoc upon all her Huntsman in the aftermath of their betrayal, the one instinctive move which Freya does is build an ice wall to protect them. To shield them. You probably get why I deem her a memorable character, so enough said.
Huntsman doesn’t shy away from having ripped off a bunch of films. Let’s give one example- please don’t tell me that letting the Ice Queen sit on what seems to be a polar bear, and having a bunch of icy ‘statues’ decorate her castle compound is original. Please at least admit you got those aspects from Narnia. And no, I get the Frozen vibe here too. Stop. Simply put, stop ripping off beloved properties and expect us to close one eye. This ‘copycat’ issue gets so obvious at times that I feel like I’m watching another film entirely. And that shot of Eric jumping off a mountain with an axe into the houses below? Please, I’ve seen that shot countless of times (its in the trailer, if you’re curious), and I’m about to see it in Warcraft. And probably a few more films (I seriously remember seeing this shot in several films releasing this year, but I’ve forgotten their names…).
Before I end off this review with a summary and some score breakdowns, let me just say this- I don’t need another sequel. I know the ending is just begging for another sequel (and oh please, stop having Ravenna come back from the dead!! At least admit she’s immortal or something.), but at this point in time, I’m probably disinterested in checking the next one out (unless Blunt returns too, of course, then I’m in). We aren’t inclined to find out what’s next for Eric and friends, so please spare us the ordeal of sitting through the next one to see Ravenna getting defeated again (before a pre-credits scene showing that she’ll be back).
Ultimately, Huntsman: Winter’s War isn’t a film I’m gonna recommend- after all, it is pointless, highly unoriginal, has a bad plot, bad character development (save Freya), and is highly forgettable, but if you wanna turn up anyways, it’s pretty decent to sit through (as long as you don’t ask too many questions and you just seek popcorn entertainment). It’s a step-up for gender equality, and has a good villain and cast, but I doubt those are going to salvage this film much.
And here’s my final verdict:
On a scale of A to F, where F means stupid and dumb and ridiculous, and anything that you possibly wouldn’t love, and where A symbolizes perfection,
Character Development: C+
Entertainment Factor: B-
Would I rewatch it? — No.
Best Moment: None really. The most dramatic- maybe Sara’s ‘death’ of sorts.