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.