Please note: This review does contain spoilers.
THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR (2016)
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.
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.
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.
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.