Hot Take: More Jessica Chastain. More queens battling. Less everything else. (This is a wish list, not a description of the movie.)
The Huntsman: Winter’s War was entertaining. It also wasn’t very good. Surely, these are contradictory statements but true, too. Watching The Huntsman, it was hard to pin down who the audience was for it. If it was for fans of the first installment — Snow White and the Huntsman — then why remove Snow White from the tale? If it was aimed at a younger audience then why have sexual overtones, violence and crude language? If it is aimed at an older audience then why not make an attempt at giving maybe just one character a little bit of depth? If it is aimed at fans won over by the trailer then why not give the audience more of the queens than we actually get?
Focusing on that last point, the trailers for this film are pretty strong. However, even without seeing the film, if you watch the three trailers, you’ll see some pretty strong differences in the narrative.
Honestly, it’s hard to believe these three trailers are advertising the same movie. After watching the movie, it’s not even any of these movies. First of all, the one consistency of the trailer is The Huntsman: Winter’s War is the story before Snow White. While the beginning of the film is a prequel, once we get through the first act, the rest of the film takes place after Snow White and the Huntsman. So, while this might not be the tale you are looking for, it might be, too.
Are you excited about the prospect of two queens (Charlize Theron and Emily Blunt) with enchanted powers battling it out as the trailers sell this hard? Well, don’t get too excited because the two squaring off takes quite some time and while the moment is a lot of fun, it’s brevity is frustrating.
The introduction of Eric’s (Chris Hemsworth) wife Sara (Jessica Chastain) is a good one but her limited screen time and overall direction of her character is a little frustrating as well. Sara kicks a lot of ass in her brief appearances, though, making it worth the wait.
Unfortunately, evaluating the final product next to the trailers, it looks like this was getting edited up to the final hours before release and first time director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan and his editing team never quite get it right. With each trailer, the diminished presence of the two queens and the emergence of Hemsworth’s Eric looked to be the change in direction which is evident in the final product and a detriment as he’s the least interesting of the characters mentioned.
To say The Huntsman: Winter’s War was bad would be fair but it wasn’t without some entertaining action and likable characters (even if they were as hollow as an old tree). Maybe that’s why they kept dying and coming back to life?
“Spoiler Free” Pros
Chastain’s bad ass Sara is a lot of fun when she’s on the screen. Her character is poorly developed and some of the tension between her and Eric (as you know from Snow White and the Huntsman, Eric thinks his wife is dead but surprise, she isn’t!) is so poorly written, you don’t buy it for a second. However, her action scenes are some of the best in the movie and you wish she had more time on screen to kick some more backside.
- The Queens (Well, Queen?)
Charlize Theron is delicious in her role as Ravenna. Emily Blunt feels a little laborious as Freya. It takes two to tango so her laborious effort is a necessary evil.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
Why superimpose regular sized actor’s faces on the bodies of dwarves? This wasn’t okay in Snow White and the Huntsman and it isn’t okay here.
Why is Chris Hemsworth so damn slow when he runs? At first, it looked like slow motion but then it became obvious that this is Hemsworth running in real time. Now, here’s a place where CGI would have come in handy especially with the amount of weapons he dodges.
Why sell this as a prequel when it’s not?