Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Writer: Evan Spiliotopoulos, Craig Mazin, Evan Daugherty (characters)
Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Jessica Chastain, Emily Blunt
Runtime: 114 min
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Released: 22 Apr 2016
Storyline: Eric and fellow warrior Sara, raised as members of ice Queen Freya’s army, try to conceal their forbidden love as they fight to survive the wicked intentions of both Freya and her sister Ravenna.
Review: The conventional wisdom holds that none of these disasters happen on purpose, that nobody ever sets out to make a bad movie. “The Huntsman” challenges that idea, since it seems to be exactly the movie that the money behind it wanted to see made. Its badness is not extreme, but exemplary: It’s everything wrong with Hollywood today stuffed into a little less than two hours.
This is especially dispiriting because “Snow White and the Huntsman” — in relation to which this “Huntsman” is both sequel and prequel — was far from a terrible piece of entertainment. It was a dark, blood-tinged modern interpretation of an old fairy tale, with tough Cockney dwarves and a memorable villain in the regal, wrathful person of Charlize Theron’s Ravenna.
That movie, directed by Rupert Sanders, could be described as a reimagining of the Snow White story. It found a new idea in old material. “Winter’s War,” in contrast, directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan from a many-authored script, is more of a de-imagining. It has no ideas at all, just secondhand and half-baked concepts.
Every resonant theme or intriguing story possibility is stripped away and replaced with a ready-made franchise-movie conceit. The filmmakers compensate for emptiness with redundancy. There are two pairs of funny dwarves and two imperious villainesses and a love interest for the title character. (Snow White, played by Kristen Stewart once upon a time in 2011, is no longer around). More is not more.
Ravenna has a sister named Freya, who is played by Emily Blunt. Ms. Theron shows up early and late, at one point in a costume of golden feathers that makes her look like the mascot for a superglamorous drive-through fried-chicken joint. Freya, who shoots ice crystals out of her fingertips, presides over a frozen kingdom and is motivated to do evil out of thwarted maternal feelings. This is an interesting example of Hollywood sexism at work. Disappointed love of some kind — romantic in Ravenna’s case, parental in Freya’s — seems to be a requirement for female evildoing. Guys, on the other hand, can be bad just for the power-hungry fun of it.