Release date: 4th April 2016/Watch the trailer here
The Huntsman: Winter’s War is part-prequel, part-sequel to 2012’s Snow White and The Huntsman. Disregarding Snow White, The Huntsman instead focuses on Chris Hemsworth’s Huntsman, Eric. Charlize Theron returns as the Evil Queen, Ravenna, and Emily Blunt stars as her sister, Freya, whose broken heart turns her into a cruel Ice Queen, ruling over ‘the North’ and raising an army who must follow one strict rule: do not love.
This is how the story begins, a tale of two sisters and a forbidden love story between Eric and Jessica Chastain’s Sara. After fifteen minutes or so of Liam Neeson-narrated exposition, the story fast forwards seven years, post Snow White, with Ravenna defeated. This jarring leap in the narrative is the first of the film’s many issues with plot and pacing (or lack thereof).
It really is a shame that The Huntsman struggles so much with its actual story, because visually, it is a stunning spectacle of a film. Both the special effects and Colleen Atwood’s beautifully detailed costumes help to create a film that is impeccably crafted and never anything less than breathtaking to watch, but unfortunately, visual spectacle and inventiveness alone is not enough to make for a good film in this instance.
The fact that the The Huntsman is such a muddled, confused mess of a film is made even more puzzling by the fact that the casting is flawless. Chris Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain’s distractingly bad Scottish accents aside, Charlize Theron and Emily Blunt are perfect as the evil queens, and The Huntsman is at its finest when Blunt is flinging ice, Frozen-style, and Theron is draped in gold and shooting deadly black tentacles from her body.
The casting of the dwarves, too, is spot-on: although Nick Frost is the only returning dwarf from Snow White, the additions of Rob Brydon, Sheridan Smith and Alexandra Roach provide a dose of genuinely charming humour to what is an otherwise dark and joyless affair.
The Huntsman succeeds in being entertaining enough throughout to be passable, but its impact is a forgettable one. The film lacks any real heart, and it seems as though no one involved really cares – although with Jessica Chastain starring due to a contractual obligation, perhaps that really is the case. The Huntsman gets the job done, but nothing more, which is a shame because a film as beautiful to behold as this should have been far more memorable.