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Review: The Huntsman: Winter's War

Oh those pretty faces. And poor actors. The Huntsman: Winter’s War isn’t exactly cringe-inducing, only because the talented leads can handle clichéd dialogue, but it’s certainly not a film that offers anything whatsoever beyond a few laughs here and there.

Not the special effects, which while at times shine brightly, often reek of mediocre CGI. Not the action, which is frenetic and disorienting. Not imagination, which in one scene finds a rogueish goblin doing battle with our huntsman, or an Ice Queen who does little else but well, conjure ice. And that’s it.

This supplementary story to Snow White and the Huntsman, which in fact starts years before that mediocre 2012 film and ends some seven years after, dragoons back Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen Ravenna and Chris Hemsworth as the titular axe wielder.

Forced to join them on this perfunctory quasi-fantasical journey is Emily Blunt as a once in love Freya, younger sister to Ravenna, but now turned cold-hearted ice Queen after the suspicious death of her newborn daughter. I wonder who killed her…

Blaming her husband, Freya summons the magic from within and shuns love (cold heart, get it?), retreating to her castle in a way that makes you wish you were watching Frozen and forced to listen to Let it Go for the millionth time.

Freya, for reasons passing understanding, decides to put energy into training children and raising them as heartless soliders. The only rule is that they are not to love. Well, oops, wouldn’t you know it, Eric (Hemsworth) and  Sara (Jessica Chastain), the equally skilled warrior with a bow and arrow, develop the feels, and soon Freya divides them.

Winter’s War inexplicably becomes utterly simplistic and overly complicated, as if while forced to tell a straightforward, uninspiring quest tale, the filmmakers wanted to add in a lot of emotional twists and turns but don’t know where to put them. And there is no emotion.

When the star-crossed lovers are split, Eric is heartbroken and Sara thinks she has been betrayed, and even after they reunite, she still stands firm, as if she suddenly believes love is some awful, terrible thing. Freya maybe starts to warm a bit, maybe not as cold as her far eviler sister. Oh, and everyone is after a that magic mirror that Snow White (unseen) had sent off to be stored away, like some magic ring that needed to be destroyed. It’s also pretty convenient that our heroes are always kept alive just long enough to break free, fight back, or win the day.

It’s exhausting to think about, and not worth it by any means. The only saving grace is the presences of a quartet of dwarves who offer wit and charm, played by Nick Frost, Rob Brydon, Sheridan Smith, and Alexandra Roach, who all deserve their own road movie.

But it’s all harmless, ineffectual drivel, reeking of contractual obligation and self-seriousness. Sara’s gimmick is that she ‘never misses,’ a tag that comes into play time and time again for cheesy effect. Sara may hit the mark, but The Huntsman misses wildly and completely.

[star v=2]

Anthony Marcusa

A pop-culture consumer, Anthony seeks out what is important in entertainment and mocks what is not. Inspired by history, Anthony writes with the hope that someone, somewhere, might be affected.