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article imageReview: ‘The Huntsman: Winter’s War’ leaves audiences out in the cold Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Apr 23, 2016 in Entertainment
‘The Huntsman: Winter’s War’ is a dreary sequel, which ironically matches its villain’s lack of passion as it goes through the motions of telling a mediocre story.
Origin stories are a simple way of capitalizing on the success of an already existing narrative. With previously established characters on which to draw and a ready-made audience familiar with the premise, going back to a tale’s ultimate beginning seems like a no-brainer. However these advantages don’t automatically translate into a good movie as filmmakers are still required to combine these ingredients with a fresh, engaging story that incorporates old and new elements. The latest to try to use this formula is The Huntsman: Winter’s War, which is a follow-up to 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman.
Eric (Chris Hemsworth) is not called a “huntsman” by chance. He was recruited as a child to serve in the Ice Queen Freya’s (Emily Blunt) elite army of Huntsmen, charged with extending her domain throughout the North. Freya, the Evil Queen Ravenna’s (Charlize Theron) younger sister, experienced great loss and now rules with a cold heart, demanding love be vanquished from her kingdom. However, in spite of her attempts to indoctrinate her soldiers to this philosophy, Eric and Sara (Jessica Chastain) fell in love — so she determined to extinguish the flame. After years of mending a broken heart and helping Snow White overthrow the Evil Queen, Eric is provided an opportunity to get revenge on Freya. With the help of some friends, he must prevent her from gaining possession of her late sister’s magic mirror and taking over the rest of the kingdom.
In spite of some highlights, this movie is exceptionally dull. Hemsworth’s Eric is unavoidably charming and the source of most of the audience’s smiles and laughter. Chastain matches and in some instances exceeds his physical abilities, but the emotional chemistry between them is noticeably forced and thus less captivating. Theirs is supposed to be a love story for the ages, yet it’s difficult to believe they’re more than just friends. In addition the misogynistic humour of Eric’s dwarf companions, once again played by average-sized men Nick Frost and Rob Brydon, is not especially funny. The comedy is meant to establish an innate distaste between male and female dwarves, but it seems unnecessarily crude. Conversely once the vertically-challenged women join their cause, the jokes improve. Since the movie pushes nearly two-hours, these issues have plenty of time to simmer and annoy.
The story itself is a journey narrative à la The Lord of the Rings that sees Eric and the companions he picks up along the way heading to a specific destination mostly without incident. They eventually run into goblins that are a strange cross of ram and ape, and lead to blurry CGI action as the beasts attack from all angles. More obviously, the movie brings Frozen’s Elsa into a live-action world in which she chooses not to limit the possibilities of her icy powers. Filmmakers also borrow from The Game of Thrones, creating an enormous ice wall for characters to climb as it stands between them and their goal. However the action occurs at uneven intervals, causing the film to drag in sections that rely on weak banter; which is in contrast to the first film that painstakingly and damagingly ensured there was an action beat every few pages.
Where Snow White’s story was very long and dark, this movie’s attempt to balance these elements simply skews it in another less entertaining direction.
Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chastain and Emily Blunt
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