The Huntsman Winters War
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain, Charlize Theron
This is what a film looks like when it is directed by a studio. Sure visual effects supervisor Cedric Nicolas-Troyan worked on the previous “Snow White & the Huntsman”, but has never directed a single feature film in his life. “Jessica Chastain was contractually obligated to appear in this film, due to starring in a previous film also distributed by Universal, “Crimson Peak” (2015).” That’s your answer, if you were wondering why one of the most promising actors of our time is appearing in a film that shouldn’t exist. Theron demanded equal pay to Hemsworth, despite having only ¼ the screen time. This prequel/sequel (yes it’s both) is a mess from start to finish, yet it stands as another shining example of what happens when the business side interferes with the artistic side.
Narrator Liam Neeson explains that we do not know the entire story of Snow White, The Huntsman and Queen Ravenna. We journey back seven years prior to the events of the first film to find Ravenna (Theron) and her loving but less magical sister Freya (Blunt) living in peace. Freya is with child, and when the baby is born can think of nothing else, she is betrayed by her lover and the child killed. Her anger and despair awakens a dark power, equivalent to her sister. She becomes The Ice Queen, building her frigid kingdom in the north. Freya began plucking young children from their families and raising an army called Huntsman, here we learn the origin of Eric (Hemsworth) and his warrior wife Sara (Chastain).
Chastain and Blunt feel horribly miscast here, despite their limitless range as actors.
The studio denies changing the script to exclude Kristen Stewart (Snow White) and the previous director, whom she was rumored to have had an affair. Yet ramifications of that choice seem to effect everything we see on screen. King William (Sam Claflin) whom Snow White married appears briefly. “Queen Snow White demands it,” William says in order to push this film into sequel territory once the script has built a backstory with the prequel. For six Middle Earth films, audiences have pondered about female dwarfs, “Lord of the Rings” dwarf Gimli even mentions them in “The Two Towers”. Fear not, “Winters War” finally gives the audience not only a look, but two integral female dwarf characters. One of which is the films few highlights.
This prequel/sequel has a real problem with major character death fake out. Sure we are told that Eric’s wife had died in the previous film, but unless you are a moron, you know that Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain (“The Help”, “Zero Dark Thirty”) isn’t going to appear in just a couple of scenes in the prequel segment, so that’s a huge waste of suspense. The fake-out deaths continue with various characters, each time popping back up to say, “just kidding”. Both Chastain and Blunt feel horribly miscast here, despite their limitless range as actors, it seems like a cruel spell from Ravenna that both would have to appear in such a terrible film. Blunt’s costume and makeup look at if she is in the wrong Hemsworth sequel. Freya says in her kingdom there is only one law: “Love is a sin”. Love is always under attack from the women in the film, it’s a universal theme which can even be applied to the audience, because I felt no love for this manufactured fairytale.
Not even three great actresses can make this worth watching.