‘The Huntsman: Winter War’ hits theaters
By LEE McPETERS
“The Huntsman: Winter’s War,” which premiered on Apr. 22, only made $21 million in its opening weekend, which, in the eyes of Hollywood, was a flop. Most reviews were negative and the atmosphere surrounding it was one of dislike.
As a whole, the movie was entertaining but many factors led to its downfall. Most noticeably was the complete absence of Kristen Stewart as Snow White. Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian stated, “Snow White and Kristen Stewart have been chillingly banished from this derivative follow-up, in which Charlize Theron and Emily Blunt prove hard to warm to.”
While Chris Hemsworth does a good job as the Huntsman in the lead role, the absence of Snow White definitely leaves a gap in the narrative and film overall. Supporting Hemsworth is Jessica Chastain who plays his wife, Sara, a fellow Huntsman in the army, raised to protect Freya, the Ice Queen (Emily Blunt).
The movie is a prequel and sequel to “Snow White and the Huntsman” which premiered in 2012. The movie starts as viewers see the rise of Freya, started by her sister Ravenna, (Charlize Theron). The audience also sees the Huntsman’s backstory, as he grows from child to man alongside his fellow Huntsmen and future wife. The film then abruptly switches to seven years after the end of the original movie which is quite a gap for viewers to jump, and it leaves them in a small lurch.
The movie is centered around a mirror, an object we encountered in both the first movie and the original fairy tale of Snow White. Both the Huntsman and Freya are searching for it, and while the audience knows it is significant to the story, the reason why is never fully shown. Accompanying the Huntsman is his wife and four dwarves, who provide almost all the comic relief.
The Huntsman and his wife’s relationship is strained through most of the movie, as a result of a deception made by Freya. The audience understands why the tension is there, although at times it seems that Chastain’s character is more frozen than Freya, as she pushes away the Huntsman even as he fights for her and proves his love many times. This all leads to the film trying to deal with too much at times, and it feel too busy.
As a whole, though, the film is an entertaining and beautifully portrayed story. The shots are rich and the scenes are vibrant. The characters are well built and fill their roles well. The fantasy aspect from the first movie is also present as dwarves, goblins and other smaller creatures appear. Yet the story as a whole is one that is too overcrowded and falls flat. We cheer as our heroes fight and endeavor on but the ending is not as climatic and powerful as what could have been hoped for. There is a reference to an another possible installment in the series, but viewers are left wondering if that is a smart choice.