The Huntsman: Winter’s War begins with events prior to the 2012 Snow White and The Huntsman movie. We learn how The Huntsman Eric (Chris Hemsworth), and Huntswoman Sara (Jessica Chastain), became soldiers in the army of The Ice Queen, Freya (Emily Blunt). The Ice Queen is the younger sister of Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron), who stole the throne from the innocent Freya. Through a tragic event Freya leaves her sisters kingdom to become the hardhearted Ice Queen of the North, stealing children for her army and driven by the sole purpose of eradicating love everywhere. The film then switches to events post the first movie, after Queen Ravenna has been defeated by Snow White. The Magic Mirror has gone missing and the Huntsman is hired to find it before it falls into the hands of the wicked Ice Queen.
The Ice Queen Freya, twisted by her own personal tragedies, splits up love birds Eric and Sara and exiles them both. Eric has been convinced by Freya that Sara is dead. Sara has been convinced that Eric abandoned her despite his oath of undying love. The theme of the film is one of love conquering all, and if you can stomach that, The Huntsmen: Winters War, is an enjoyable, even if contrived fantasy film.
The story feels a little clumsy as it switches modes from prequel to sequel. Kristin Stewart as Snow White is absent from the film and its difficult to work out who the The Huntsman: Winter’s War story really belongs to. The show is stolen from Eric the protagonist by the stellar female cast. He serves as a bridge between the movies. He fights valiantly and offers some dumb boyish grins and one-liners to win over the comparatively sublime long-lost wife, Sara. However there’s not a lot of depth to his character.
The Ice Queen Freya is obviously the villain however it’s hard to dislike her as Emily Blunts performance is so well executed, as she negotiates Freyas quasi and fragile malevolence. Theron plays Ravenna as an over the top, camp, super villain embellished with some surreal and enthralling visuals. The films finale is an epic clash between Ravenna and Freya featuring a destructive whirl of gold, feathers, ice and some icky black ooze. The costumes are truly stunning.
Throughout the film the fight scenes are exceptionally choreographed. Jessica Chastains fighting skills and scenes are sublime although at times she looks a little bored in the role of the “ex-wife” or perhaps her character is just bored with boyish Eric. Its difficult to believe Sara, so accomplished, would fall for the likes of Eric and Chastain dances rings around Helmsworth with her performance.
The dwarves that accompany Eric (there are only 4 this time and not 7), provide comic relief through the film and have their own side-story and romance.
Overall The Huntsman: Winter’s War is an entertaining film, a breathtakingly crafted visual splendor despite a trite story-line. The performances are no less than what would be expected from its award winning cast. An enjoyable weekend film that’s worth the watch.