It’s always a weird change of pace when a film that comes directly after the success of another, is essentially a prequel/sequel that ditches the characters and the stories that people wanted to see more of. That’s the case with The Huntsman: Winter’s War, which is a prequel to the standout hit Snow White and the Huntsman, which turned a lot of heads despite not being a great film. Winter’s War, on the other hand, is a film suffering from everything that blockbusters suffered from in the 2010s.
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The Movie Review
The film is both a sequel and a prequel and as such it has multiple timelines being showcased. It shows the Ice Queen Freya’s origin, where she loses her child and her mind both to a treacherous event. Afterward, Freya isolates herself and creates a kingdom of her own where she steals children away from their families to be raised as soldiers away from any semblance of love.
Years later, we see the Huntsman summoned by Freya who asks him to retrieve the magic mirror that can grant its owner the gift of immortality. However, things take a turn for the worse when Eric and his lover Sara realize that Freya plans global domination, and they must stop her at any cost.
Honestly, from the premise, you’d think that this is a film that has everything going for it, and it did. However, the devil lies in the execution, which is so poorly done that it ruins any chances of this film being even decent. The director, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, tried to create a unique visual style.
Unfortunately, in the process, he failed to deliver a compelling story. It’s a generic film with no vision of its own, filled to the brim with boring ideas that have been long overdone. Not to mention, there was so much bad slapstick humor that it kept taking you out of the experience.
The film heavily relies on the simplistic action that it’s filled with, and yet none of it is very engaging to watch either. You basically run into the same action sequence in a different location with different characters, but it’s done in the same way. There’s also an abundance of shaky-cam action, which makes everything hard to watch, it’s headache-inducing.
Moreso than the action, what’s more annoying is the rushed pacing of the film. You’re constantly thrown from one scene to the other with zero moments of development or respite.
One of the only two aspects that I like about this film is the acting. I mean, it was already guaranteed that this film would have phenomenal performances, you’ve got talent on board. Of course, Charlize Theron as Queen Ravenna is just as sensual and terrifying as always, but Emily Blunt as the Ice Queen is a surprisingly incredible portrayal. She exudes a coldness that you’d only expect from an Ice Queen, and she takes center stage in the story for it to truly show.
Jessica Chastain is great in the film as Sara, but her role is a bit less flashy than the other women in the ensemble. Chris Hemsworth is quite one-note here as usual, but that’s mainly because The Huntsman is a boring character.
The other thing that sells this film is the cinematography, the visuals were at the top of the priority list. This may not show much in the CGI work, but the cinematography itself is filled to the brim with beautiful shots, some intense lighting and some really well-done dialogue sequences in the Ice Queen Freya’s Kingdom. The CGI, on the other hand, is quite bad and looks outdated despite being a 2016 film.
The shaky camera during the action sequences also didn’t help and brought down the camera work quality quite a lot. Finally, the soundtrack by James Newton Howard is delightful, it’s not the best you’ll hear, and the previous film had a better one. But one thing’s for sure, the Halsey song featured in the film is absolutely fantastic.
There is a lot to dislike about this film. It feels as soulless as you’d think, considering it’s a prequel/sequel about a character that didn’t much interest people in the film he was introduced. However, there was a lot of potential that went to waste.
The actors gave it their all, it felt like, but the film just wasn’t up to spark for it to work well. In the end, we’re left with a film that feels uninspired and generic, but it could’ve been a unique film with a beautiful story of grief and loss.
- Beautiful cinematography, with some great lighting and camera angles
- The performances by Charlize Theron and Jessica Chastain were great, but Emily Blunt totally commands the screen
- A really interesting plot, with a ton of unrealized potential
- The soundtrack is great, especially the Halsey song
- The shaky camerawork in the film’s action scenes is headache inducing
- The Huntsman is just not a fun character to watch
- The film’s screenplay is bland, with too much slapstick humor and corny dialogue
- The film is rushed, jumping from one scene to the other quite superfluously
- Too much CGI results in CGI looking completely manufactured, it looks too fake