The Huntsman: Winter’s War Parent Review
Unless you think listening to Chris Hemsworth do a marble-mouthed Scottish accent while jugging three grumpy women sounds like a good time, this predictable fantasy might leave you cold.
In this age of prequels and sequels, why not do both? Perhaps the most unique aspect of The Huntsman: Winter’s War is the method by which the story envelops both ends of the 2012 release Snow White and the Huntsman. And if you’re scratching your head to try and recall that movie, you’d do well to view it prior to jumping into this se-pre-quel.
Moving backward in time, the story reminds us that evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) has a long history of doing nasty things. Using her magical powers (that mainly involves the oozing of strange black goo that can be turned into a dangerous weapon) she kills to gain power and unleashes the colder side of her happy little sister Freya (Emily Blunt) who had the nerve to find love and bear a child.
Heading north, the now frosty Freya sets up her own frozen kingdom (yeah, it all sounds familiar, doesn’t it?) and begins to conquer surrounding jurisdictions with her army of conscripted warriors. These soldiers are children she’s kidnapped, raised and trained. Despite the fact she slaughtered their parents, these droves of young fighters remain loyal to their royal master, including Eric the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth).
One of the chief thugs, Eric returns from battle after battle covered in blood and boldly announces his latest conquests to the Ice Queen. But Eric mustn’t have read the section of the Ice Kingdom employment manual that would have reminded him to never fall in love with another member of the army. Using her robotic surveillance owl to peek in on Eric (I’m not joking… really…), she discovers he’s skinny-dipping in the palace hot tub with Sara (Emily Blunt), who he’s known since childhood. The transgression puts him in more hot water than he could have ever imagined and results in his expulsion from the kingdom—but only after seeing Sara brutally stabbed to death.
At this point you can fast forward through Snow White and the Huntsman and then return to this story already in progress. The script picks up with the disappearance Queen Ravenna’s magic mirror that has the potential to endow its owner with more power than Gloria Steinem guest hosting on The View. Needless to say, Eric is called in to find the missing looking glass before Freya can get her hands on it.
Violence in this film is a hair less intense than its predecessor. There’s no blood drinking this time, but the impalings and stabbings are still frequent. Ravenna’s liquid tentacles have the ability to harden and rip through bodies in a rather disturbing manner. Queen Freya ices her problem-makers in a more humane way that minimizes the blood effects. There’s also a moment of time for a sexual tryst (aside from the aforementioned hot tub) with male and female bodies carefully positioned to hide explicit details.
The overworked special effects that gush across the screen accompanied by a contemporary girl-power musical score do their best to distract us from the lack of story. Thankfully a few dwarves (Rob Brydon, Nick Frost, Sheridan Smith and Alexandra Roach) are tossed into the mix for comic relief—otherwise there isn’t a smile to be had in the primary plot line. For those who think two hours of listening to Chris Hemsworth do a marble-mouthed Scottish accent while jugging three grumpy women sounds like a good time, this may be the film you’ve been hunting for.Directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan. Starring Jessica Chastain, Emily Blunt, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron. Running time: 115 minutes. Updated August 23, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in The Huntsman: Winter’s War here.
The Huntsman: Winter’s War Parents Guide
Because she has been betrayed, the Ice Queen believes true love is a lie. How does she let her personal disappointment affect her behavior? Does her desire to seek revenge bring her any peace? What might be better ways of dealing with grief?
Both Sara and Eric were trained to be warriors from their childhood. In service to their monarch, both have committed terrible atrocities. Now Sara is feeling great guilt because of her actions. Are they justified because they were being obedient to their queen? Or are they personally responsible for these war crimes? How do you think they should be judged?