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It’s Like Frozen, But With More Murders!

Please note: This review does contain spoilers.

THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR (2016)

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Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain

Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan

Rating: PG-13 for violence and CG scary stuff.

Plot: Eric the Huntsman is back! So is Queen Ravenna! One of the dwarfs is back too!  Is it a prequel? Is it a sequel? No, it’s both!  I’m so freakin confused.

The Huntsman: Winters War is a sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman.

Hey, I reviewed that 2012 movie here at DVD Critics Corner! I know! Weird, right?

Click here to read the review if you care.

Spoiler Alert: It’s really good. The review, I mean. The movie? Not so much.

Apparently the movie making folks out there in Hollywood know better than we do what we want to see in the theaters, so they gathered up the cast of Snow White and the Huntsman and made a sequel!

Well, most of the cast. Kristen Stewart, who played Snow White, wasn’t invited back.

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Nope.

I know what you’re thinking. How can they possibly make a sequel to a movie without including the main character from the first one?

Quite easily, actually.

Winter’s War features the characters that made the first movie bearable – the evil sorceress/Queen Ravenna and Eric the ass kicking Huntsman plus a new hero and a second evil sorceress/Queen!

Sorry, Snow. There’s no room for you in this movie.

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She’s devastated. Trust me.

Winter’s War introduces us to Ravenna’s sister Freya (Emily Blunt), an evil sorceress/Queen who can turn things to ice and thankfully doesn’t feel the need to sing “Let It Go” at the drop of a hat. Freya’s soldiers kidnap children from conquered villages to turn them into vicious Huntsman because it’s cheaper than setting up a decent school system in the castle. Two of her prized young soldiers Eric and Sara are in love with each other, but love is forbidden in Freya’s kingdom because the Queen had a monumentally bad breakup at the very beginning of the movie, so if she can’t be happy then no one can!

Eric and Sara’s relationship is discovered by Freya. They are pummeled by the other Huntsman and Eric is banished and left for dead. Thinking Sara was killed, Eric moves on with his life and several years later he helps Snow White defeat Ravenna in the 2012 fantasy epic Snow White and the Huntsman, available on Blu Ray and DVD!

The movie then jumps ahead to a time after the first movie. Eric (Chris “Mighty Thor” Hemsworth) is chilling in the forest when Snow White’s husband William informs Eric that Ravenna’s magic mirror has gone missing, and asks him to go find it. Eric sets off on his mission with a pair of  dwarfs;  Nion (Nick Frost, reprising his role from the first movie) and Gryff (Rob Brydon) who bicker like comic relief sidekicks are expected to do.

Ten minutes into their quest Eric and his pals are attacked by a gang of Freya’s men, but they are saved by Sara, who is not dead after all!

Sara is played to butt kicking warrior woman perfection by Jessica Chastain, who is not, repeat NOT Bryce Dallas Howard!

Although it’s really easy to mix them up. Here’s a test. One of these lovely ladies is Jessica Chastain, the other is Bryce Dallas Howard. Go ahead, guess:

Give up? Touch each photo with your little arrow thing to find out who is who.

Did you guess right?

Is that weird or what? They’re like twins or something!

Anyhoo, Sara is monumentally pissed at Eric for abandoning her at Freya’s castle, which lead to several years of imprisonment in Freya’s dungeon before her recent escape. Eric believes Freya must have used her powers to make him think Sara was murdered and Sara think Eric ran away, but Sara doen’t believe him because Hell hath no fury like a Huntswoman scorned!

Sara agrees to help Eric recover the mirror before Freya can get her crazy ice hands on it. They pick up two female dwarfs Bromwyn and Doreana (Sheridan Smith, Alexandra Roach) who tell them the mirror was stolen by a band of goblins who are fierce, ugly and computer generated.

Eric and company retrieve the mirror, but (cue dramatic music) Freya shows up with her army and a huge plot twist – Sara has been working with Freya all along, and to prove her loyalty to her Queen shoots Eric with a bow and arrow!

Women! Am I right?

Freya takes the mirror back to her kingdom, and when she turns it on or reboots it or whatever the heck you do with magic mirrors, her sister the evil Ravenna (Charlize Theron) comes out of the mirror very alive and very determined to use Freya’s army to destroy Snow White’s kingdom!  Freya is a bit put out that Ravenna is taking over as Queen of her kingdom, but hey, what are evil sorceress/big sisters for?

All appears lost but wait, Eric is not dead after all! Turns out Sara only nearly killed him with a bow and arrow which is a Huntswoman’s way of saying I love you!

Eric and his dwarf pals storm Freya’s castle to free Sara and put a world of Huntsman hurt on Freya and Ravenna.

Can Eric thwart Ravenna’s evil plans? Will Freya realize her sister is a billion times more evil than she is? Does Jessica Chastain know how much she looks like Bryce Dallas Howard?

Seriously, they could be twins!

Surprisingly, The Huntsman: Winter’s War is a heck of a lot better than the previous movie. That’s mostly due to Chris Hemsworth, who has this charming butt kicking warrior thing down cold thanks to a magic Norse hammer and a handful of Marvel movies. Throw in a trio of top notch actresses and some cool fights and action sequences and you have yourself a decent action fantasy movie.

Sorry Kristen. They didn’t need you this time.

 

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Still devastated. I think…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which One of You is Dopey?

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SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN (2012) Director: Rupert Sanders  Starring: Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins  Rating: PG-13 for scary CG creature stuff, fighting with pointy objects, and full sized men pretending to be dwarfs. 

Forget everything you know about the Disney masterpiece Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs!

That’s right, banish every detail from your mind! Be gone Snow White, Prince Charming, the Wicked Queen! Take a hike Happy, Sleepy, Crunchy, Scabby, and all the other dwarfs!

There’s a new version of this timeless tale on DVD called Snow White and the Huntsman, and not only is it a dramatic retelling of the classic fairy tale, it’s got a pinch of Lord of the Rings, a dash of Willow, and a drop of Legend thrown in for good measure.

Think of Snow White and the Huntsman as a hearty and flavorful stew with lots of different ingredients that you pour into your DVD player and enjoy. Mmmm. I loves a good movie stew!

In medieval England (you can tell its medieval times because every road, dwelling, and peasant is covered in mud and feces) King Magnus and Queen Elanor have a daughter and name her Snow White after the Queen’s grandmother, who was a blizzard or something.

Things go well for Princess Snow for a couple of years, then her Mom dies and Dad quickly remarries a beautiful blonde chicky he rescued from a marauding army of scary dark warriors.  Ravenna (Charlize Theron) seems like a decent woman right up to when she murders Magnus on their wedding night and takes over the kingdom with the help of the dark scary guys.  Turns out Ravenna is an evil sorceress who wishes to stay beautiful for all eternity, and since botox won’t be invented for another 700 years, she drains the lifeforce of the kingdom’s young girls to keep herself looking totally hot.

Believe it or not, Nicole Kidman uses this very same technique to stay young! It says so on her Wikipedia page! Well, it will right after I post it there.

A decade or so goes by and little Snow White (who has been locked away in the castle tower) grows up to be Kristen Stewart, who was in those Twilight vampire movies the kids were so crazy about a couple of years ago. Snow hopes to be released one day or at least given a bath, but since her evil sorceress stepmother still hates her guts,  it seems highly unlikely the smelly princess will ever see the light of day.

When Ravenna learns from her magic mirror that eating Snow White’s heart will make her live forever, she dispatches her equally evil brother Finn (Sam Spruell) to bring her down from the tower. But snow escapes Finn, flees the castle and hides in The Dark Forest; a scary place with creepy bugs, slimy trees, and terrible picnic facilities.

Ravenna orders a local huntsman named Eric (Chris Hemsworth) to lead Finn and his soldiers into The Dark Forest to track down the fugitive Princess. Ravenna would gladly join them on their quest, but evil magic powers don’t work in The Dark Forest because the evil signal strength is poor and there simply aren’t enough evil magic hotspots. If Ravenna had only switched to Evil Verizon!

Eric quickly tracks down Snow White (probably by smell since the girl hasn’t showered in a friggin decade!) but decides to help her escape because Finn is a treacherous class “A” dickhead with a pageboy haircut and Eric is a medieval bad boy who plays by his own rules!

Snow White and Eric travel cross country evading Ravenna’s army looking for the Kingdom of Duke Hammond (Vincent Regan), the former right hand man of dead King Magnus who will help Snow defeat her bitchy step-mom. Along the way they meet up with seven dwarfs in a magic forest populated by magic fairies and all kinds of cute and furry animals that smile a lot and fart rainbows and other My Little Pony type crap.  Fairies are weird, ugly little creatures. There, I said it!

The dwarfs in this movie are portrayed by a pack of veteran British character actors and are more Lord of the Rings style dwarfs than Disney dwarfs, which means they’re gross looking but they know how to kick ass, and that’s a good thing because Snow needs a hard fighting army to take back her kingdom, and kindly dwarfs who break out into a song and dance number simply will not cut it!

Snow White and the Huntsman finishes up with a big battle as Snow straps on some armor form the Joan of Arc collection and leads Duke Hammond’s men on an all out assault on Ravenna and her evil army. As our heroine squares off against the villain in the thrilling climax, one cannot help but wonder if all of this violence and bloodshed could have been avoided years earlier with a few visits to a good family counselor. You know, one who understands how difficult it is for a child to adjust to a new family member, particularly one that is an evil life sucking sorceress, and who could have explained to Ravenna that raising a step child involves patience and give and take, not imprisonment and black magic fueled rage.

I guess we’ll never know.

Red Dawn: A DVD Critics Corner Quiz!

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RED DAWN (2012) Director: Dan Bradley Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Adrianne Palicki, Josh Hutcherson, Jeffrey Dean Morgan Rating: PG-13 for violence, explosions, and freckle faced, all-American kids kicking ass!

Good day students!

It’s Tom, Professor of DVD theory here at DVD Critics Community College. I hope your semester is going well, and your DVD studies are progressing as best as can be expected for a student who attends a university that advertises on Craigslist.

The school year is almost over, and all of you should be hard at work preparing for final exams. I have it from a reliable source that the test for you Advanced Jason Statham students is going to be a tough one, so crack open those DVDs and get watching!

In the meantime, here’s something for the rest of you to get your brain bits firing on all cylinders; a brief quiz about the last movie I watched – the 2012 actioner Red Dawn!

Let’s begin!

1. Tom watched Red Dawn because:

A) He is a big fan of the original Red Dawn and was anxious to see how the remake updated the characters,setting, and plot.

B) He enjoys action films that have an interesting “what if” story.

C) Some selfish person who shall remain nameless erased the season finale of Glee from the DVR!

2. Red Dawn tells the story of a group of young people who fight back when their city is invaded by:

A) Chinese paratroopers

B) North Korean guerillas

C) Jersey Shore guidos

3. Leading the young Wolverines in their struggle for freedom is Chris Hemsworth. Hemsworth:

A) Has made a name for himself in the last few years with films such as Cabin in the Woods and Snow White and the Huntsman.

B) Will reprise his role as Thor in the upcoming Marvel adventure Thor: The Dark World.  

C) Is way too good looking.

D) Seriously have you seen this guy? I’m not gay or anything, but he is one tall drink of water. It’s kinda not fair that one man is that attractive. He seems like a decent, down to earth guy in the interviews I’ve read. Great. He’s good looking and humble! That’s so not fair. What were we talking about?

4. Adrianne Palicki plays Toni, a hard fighting member of the Wolverines. Toni is vital to the team because:

A) She’s dedicated to bringing freedom to her town just like the others.

B) Is a crack shot and is good in a firefight.

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C) Um… Look, she’s good for the team, okay?

5. The original Red Dawn is best know for:

A) Being the first film released with the new PG-13 rating.

B) Making the Guinness Book of World Records for being the most violent movie (at that time).

C) The only time Charlie Sheen was sober on a movie set.

D) All of the above.

6.The movie asks many questions. The most important one being:

A) Could a foreign army successfully invade the United States?

B) Would you have the courage to take up arms and fight to save your home?

C) That kid is Tom Cruise’s son?

7. What did we learn from this updated version of a classic 80’s action movie?

A) The original Red Dawn is still a solid action movie/drama.

B) Remakes of classic 80’s action movies are never as good as the original.

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C) Adrianne Palicki buys her wife beaters at Gap Kids.

Please pass your answers forward, and I’ll grade them sometime between tomorrow and never. Thank you.