Unexpected prequel/sequel to Snow White & The Huntsman turns in an entertaining, estrogen-filled experience
WATCH THE TRAILER(S) HERE:
KEY CAST MEMBERS: Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chastain, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Nick Frost, Rob Brydon, Alexandra Roach, Sheridan Smith and Sope Dirisu
WRITER(S): Evan Spiliotopoulos, Craig Mazan (screenplay), Evan Daugherty (characters)
WEB SITE: http://www.thehuntsmanmovie.com/#!/
No, it goes back in time a few years earlier when Ravenna was the unquestioned ruler of the land after the unfortunate passing of the king. Her younger sister Freya (Emily Blunt), however, was not as concerned with ruling as she was in love with William (Sam Clafin), who her sister correctly predicted would bear her a daughter. But, as Ravenna also predicted, he would not – despite his promises – break off his engagement with the woman he was supposed to marry for Freya, leading Freya to have an epic breakdown that transformed her into “the Ice Queen.” Leaving Ravenna before her demise, Freya would head to the north and encapsulate the entire land into a frozen wasteland where the children she would “save” would grow into a powerful army for her and live, provided they never broke one rule: Letting their hearts be open to the idea of love – which is what turned Freya into a woman so feared they were afraid to speak her name – was forbidden.
Fast forward a few years later and Freya is now on the warpath to take the one thing she has never tried to before: Snow White’s kingdom. And to do so, she seeks the one thing that Snow White has cast out of her kingdom: The mirror that once belonged to Ravenna, hence the reason Eric and his dwarf sidekicks Gryff (Rob Brydon) and Nion (Nick Frost) are out tracking – or hunting, if you will – where it could be since someone (or something) has stolen it in hopes of finding it before Freya does.
There’s just one little thing that none of the trio counted on getting in their way: Sara (Jessica Chastain), the female huntsman Eric thought was dead … That also just so happened to once be his wife.
WHO WON’T (OR SHOULDN’T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? People who were not that enthused with the first Huntsman movie; those who are “too grown” to watch a long adaptation of a story based on a fairy tale and/or simply aren’t interested in the subject matter … And anyone who suffers from Achondroplasiaphobia (look it up for yourself; I took the time to type that in correctly!)
Well, if you were among those who in fact was in that camp, I have news that once again may be surprising as it was the first time: Winter’s War is a fairly entertaining tale that manages to wrap itself up happily ever after.
For a film that delves more into the Huntsman’s background, Winter’s War is essentially a feminist power movement … That just so happens to be draped in a world of goblins, fairies and mystical characters. For while Hemsworth character does pretty much everything you’d expect – be charming, smile and be self-deprecating while exhibiting powerful strikes and just enough emotion to let you know he’s likable like John Cena at his non-movie day job. However, Hemsworth’s character is not really so much the star of Winter’s War as much a necessary component of a story that dives into a tale that explores sibling rivalry, relationships and the good ol’ element of good vs. evil – all of which is essentially driven by Winter’s War‘s female characters.
Whereas Chastain plays alongside Hemsworth as his equal and personal protagonist, Blunt and Theron work as extremely well as the films’ overarching villains. Chastain provides a great personal rival for Hemsworth to keep him in check in regards to both his past and present as they work through their respective issues without ever feeling hokey. Whereas you can feel the emotion crack in Blunt’s character’s psyche, you can feel the pure, unabashed and unflappable evil flowing out of Theron with each sneer, calculated body movement and verbal spear. The biggest scene stealer, however, is Sheridan Smith as Mrs. Bromwyn, a fellow dwarf who sparring sessions with Rob Brydon’s Gryff are at times the best parts of the film. The four ladies really produce a nice spectrum of a range of talent in the film that makes things enjoyable and interesting, which is something that most things pertaining to the words “Snow White” are absent for just about anyone over the age of 13 (or at least should be). But back to what matters …
This is not to suggest Hemsworth is capable in his role by any means; it’s simply to acknowledge just how much Winter’s War smartly uses its female stars in ways that showcase their talent and make them integral as much more than any typical damsel in distress. Whereas the roles of women in film is still something of constant debate – just look at the online scuttlebutt regarding Hemsworth’s upcoming other summer film, the all-female Ghostbusters reboot – Winter’s War is another example that quality acting is quality acting, which is all that ultimately should and does matter at the box office. Yes, the film isn’t perfect– there are a few fairy tale staples that are easy to foresee – but thanks to the well-paced melodrama and special effects as executed under the direction of first-timer Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Winter’s War is a welcome addition to the spring movie season.
Feel free to bite this apple with no worries of a poisonous aftertaste.
OVERALL RATING (OUT OF FOUR POSSIBLE BUCKETS OF POPCORN):