The Huntsman: Winter’s War – Film Review

The Huntsman: Winter’s War follows Snow White and the Huntsman. In this story we are taken back to before the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) was ordered by the Evil Queen, Ravenna (Charlize Theron) to capture Snow White (who is mentioned but makes no appearance in this movie), and then we fast-forward to when the Huntsman hides from Ravenna’s sister, Freya (Emily Blunt), the Ice Queen. This installment fills us in on the queen sisters’ story before Snow White and we also delve into more detail about the Huntsman years before and after she has been saved.
The way the movie is staged makes it a little confusing to understand where in the timeline this story fits in or what the focus of the plot really is but the story itself is quite easy to follow. Ravenna is brought back to life by her sister Freya and together they plan to build an army, conquer Snow White and rule the Enchanted Forest. Having banished love from her kingdom, Freya’s Huntsman and another fighter, Sara (Jessica Chastain) have to keep their love a secret. Not long after the lovers’ separation, word gets out that Ravenna has died and her infamous “mirror mirror on the wall” is threatening to end up in the wrong hands. The Huntsman makes it is mission to find it.
Though the overall story is very familiar, it is only somewhat bearable. It is difficult to see why the story is even necessary in its own right. For starters, the many elements seem like a mesh of tropes from other productions such as Once Upon a Time, Frozen, Lord of the Rings and even Game of Thrones. Its main emphasis is on the visual aspect, which plays up its fantastical appeal extraordinarily as we follow the characters through the vast enchanted kingdom.
There are several attempts to make the story itself more compelling but those present themselves as flat and formulaic rather than imaginative. Because it is not necessarily a bad story, it is hard to pinpoint what the problem really is. A familiar story is not necessarily a bad thing but something else then needs to reel us in. The Huntsman: Winter’s War is a story about true love, loss and longing, where bouts of confusion and betrayal step in. It is fundamentally an emotional story that begs for that sentimentality to be explored, yet here the emotion is scant or altogether discredited.
For starters, everyone is suffering at the hands of a queen who just does not know how to deal with a broken heart. So already, the driving force of the entire plot is what makes the story seem so futile. Then, for a story that revolves around the Huntsman and Sara’s forbidden love, we do not really get a true sense of why they bond. It seems all we need to know is that they love each other. It is hard to judge their chemistry when already it is a struggle to care why they should even be together; their story has so many holes.
It would have been worth the effort to focus on and explore these characters. That, along with the visuals, would have made this a beautiful movie. Instead it a lengthy story with a formulaic structure and borrowed tropes.
To me, they may just as well call it ‘Once Upon a Time: The Movie’ or ‘Frozen: The Expansion Pack’ because nothing compels this movie in its own right.

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