It’s sure has been the year of sequels hasn’t it? But I’m pretty sure none of you were expecting a prequel/sequel to 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman surely. Rather like the recent Independence Day: Resurgence and TMNT: Out of the Shadows, this is a sequel that didn’t need to exist in the first place, yet it does. The first movie was actually kind of enjoyable for what it was, but this film feels as if it’s just… there. As a fantasy-adventure film, it feels pretty lacklustre; it’s not that engaging for adult audiences, nor is it kid-friendly for family audiences, plus its sly homages to Frozen and Brave seems desperate rather than subtle with Emily Blunt’s Queen Freya being a Frozen’s Elsa rip-off and Jessica Chastain’s Sara being a Brave’s Merida rip-off.
The problem is that there was no fun to be had whatsoever as it all seemed very by-the-numbers and generically bland at best. Emily Blunt is one of the greatest actresses in the world at the moment, especially after delivering a knockout performance recently in Sicario, but here she delivers a wooden performance. I know she’s meant to be an ice queen with a broken heart, but that doesn’t mean her performance has to be cold as well. Charlize Theron feels wasted in this movie and serves no real purpose other than that the filmmakers wanted her back because of how popular she was in the previous movie. Chris Hemsworth is basically recycling his Thor performance but added additions of increased gurning, whilst Jessica Chastain ends up being bogged down thanks to a hilariously bad Scottish accent.
However, it is designed to within and inch of its life and admittedly, it’s designed really well, blending rich fairy tale fantasy with Game of Thrones style grit with visually arresting results. Director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan was the Visual Effects Supervisor on the first film, and that makes as to why it is this movie was gorgeous to look at. The creatures are brilliantly realised, particularly the goblins, and the interactions between the male and female dwarves are witty and helps to give the film some spice. But when you look at this deeply, you do realise that this is just really all about the surface and nothing else, suffering from the classic issue of all surface but no substance, all sheen and gloss but no heart. The story was too convoluted for its good (the reason Ravenna comes back is clichéd and moronic to say the least) and the reason for not having Snow White in the film at all is really telling of the fact that Kristen Stewart probably didn’t want to have any involvement with this whatsoever.
With The Huntsman: Winter’s War, we have what is frankly an unnecessarily, dull and pointless sequel to a perfectly average movie. The story’s all over the place and the acting is sub-par, lacking any heart or soul to make this film memorable in its own right. Sure it’s shiny and flashy with plenty of sparkles, but to be honest, who would want to sit through a whole film watching sparkles? Kristen Stewart has probably done herself a huge favour…
Dir: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Scr: Evan Spiliotopoulos, Craig Mazin
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain, Nick Frost, Rob Brydon, Sheridan Smith, Alexandra Roach, Sam Claflin
Prd: Joe Roth
DOP: Phedon Papamichael
Music: James Newton Howard
Run time: 115 mins
The Huntsman: Winter’s War is available to own on DVD and Blu-Ray by August 15th.