The Huntsman: Winter's War movie poster
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The Huntsman: Winter's War
The Huntsman: Winter's War movie poster

The Huntsman: Winter's War Movie Review

Now available on Blu-ray and DVD (Buy on Amazon)

Should it be all that surprising that a spin-off of a classic fairy tale rips off a hugely popular Disney cartoon that in turn was a rip-off of several other classic fairy tales? Yes, The Huntsman: Winter’s War is the so-so prequel/sequel/spin-off to the so-so Snow White and the Huntsman, but it sure plays like a more violent version of Frozen.

Emily Blunt plays Elsa... er, Queen Freya... a perfectly pleasant woman with special powers who, after her baby is killed, becomes angry, retreats to the mountains and creates a frozen castle. And just like Elsa, she becomes deranged and bans all love from her kingdom—and proceeds to attack villages, murder all the parents and turn the survivors into child soldiers.

Elsa has some anger issues.

Oh, and she’s the sister to Ravenna (Charlize Theron), the wicked queen from the last movie. That’s an entirely different level of problem, and you better bet that Ravenna—the best part of the previous movie—is back, even though she’s technically dead.

Snow White and the Huntsman was “attractive, sexy and stylish, but cold and hollow underneath.” It was visually beautiful but overly serious and not particularly fun. The Huntsman: Winter’s War is less serious and more fun, but not as visually gripping or imaginative. This new movie, which is both a prequel and sequel, offers about the same level of entertainment—bursts of fun mixed with ho-hum stretches and a throw-away, sometimes eye-rolling story.

The film’s best moments come when the movie lightens up—Nick Frost, Rob Brydon, Sheridan Smith and Alexandra Roach as four dwarves are highlights, their banter a refreshing reprieve from the less interesting and hardened characters played by just about everyone else. Chris Hemsworth is fine in the lead, though he still feels like a supporting character in his own movie. Sadly, Oscar-nominee Jessica Chastain finds herself trapped in the thankless “badass female fighter” role, while Emily Blunt attempts to be the irrational villain while being upstaged at every turn by the villain from the last movie. And yet, Charlize Theron’s presence is more of a distraction than anything else, a clear cash grab that allows the previous film’s biggest asset to be put on posters and chomp scenery without the purpose or intrigue she once had.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War offers a few decent action sequences, though none are particularly memorable. A battle with poorly animated goblins is underwhelming, and the climax, as expected, is primarily just a bunch of CGI and awkward choreography.

Still, The Huntsman: Winter’s War has just enough charm, or at least enough entertainment value, to be harmless. It isn’t great, it isn’t even that well made, but it is tolerable fun, a movie that will neither have you singing “Let It Go” nor you wishing to just let it go.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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