Movie Review: “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” – Underwhelming

Written by Caitlin Cooper May 06, 2016

The Huntsman: Winter's War

Snow White and the Huntsman is my favourite live action adaptation of the Snow White fairytale, hands down. It’s dark, visually stunning, and has a great cast. It’s one of the movies I enjoy re-watching and never get tired of. I’m aware it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty damn good. But when I learned the sequel was going to be missing a key character – Snow White herself – I was pretty sceptical about it. And I was right to be iffy about The Huntsman: Winter’s War. The movie is pitched as a prequel, but it’s really a sequel with some flashbacks. And why even have sequel if Snow White is only mentioned once?

Everyone knows the tale of Snow White, but no one knows the tale of the Huntsman who decided to spare her and the snow queen who made him into a huntsman in the first place. The story begins with Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) and her sister, Queen Freya (Emily Blunt). Freya has a baby who will grow to be the fairest in the land, and so Ravenna destroys Freya’s new family. The grief brings out Freya’s hidden powers over ice and she goes from warm and loving to cold and lonely. She’s determined to fill her empty heart by creating an army and capturing a kingdom of her own. Eric’s (Chris Hemsworth) tale begins when he’s taken as a child to be part of Freya’s army. There he meets Sara (Jessica Chastain) who becomes his wife even though Freya has made it illegal to fall in love. The two are separated and then that’s when the events from Snow White and the Huntsman occur. But the mirror begins to leak evil power that affects Snow White and she sends it away before it can corrupt her. Unfortunately, the mirror goes missing so Eric, the huntsman, must get to the mirror before Freya and stop her from unleashing evil.

“But there is another story, one you have not yet seen. One that comes long before happily ever after.”

The Huntsman: Winter’s War isn’t a bad movie, but as a Snow White and the Huntsman sequel it doesn’t work for me. Ravenna had a brother in the first movie, not a sister. Funny how siblings can be completely changed and audiences aren’t expected to notice. The film feels empty without Snow White. Why cut out the main character in the story? It’s too odd. Also, the fact that Ravenna kind of comes back undermines the awesome ending where Snow White triumphs and saves the day. The romance between Eric and Sara also makes the romance with Snow White very, very flimsy. As a sequel, this film is very frustrating. A prequel I could’ve liked, a prequel could’ve made sense. This film, however, feels like it’s not even a part of the same fairytale. But if I look at the film as its own story, then it’s easier to enjoy. It’s just as dark as the original, and just as visually stunning. The graphics and the costumes are done well. Everything is gray and cold when Freya’s present, so the tone is reflected in the visuals. Overall the story is actually smart, but if you look at it closer the story isn’t fleshed out very well. I think the romance between Eric and Sara is done too quickly for audiences to really care about it, and it doesn’t feel like we know the characters at all. But I like that we learn more about Ravenna, and that Freya sees she went from one extreme to another.

the huntsman: winter's war

The cast of The Huntsman: Winter’s War is talented. Hemsworth is a back again as Eric, the huntsman, and it’s no surprise he can carry a film. Chastain is a good actress, but her character is flat. Blunt really shines as the happy and then grieving Freya. She brings her character from happiness to pain to redemption and contentment without it ever seeming forced. This time Theron’s acting is thankfully more understated as opposed to the over-the-top yelling she does in Snow White and the Huntsman.

“Love does not make you weak. It’s all that ever gave me strength.”

The Huntsman: Winter’s War has a decent story, a great cast, and stunning visuals, but as a continuation of Snow White and the Huntsman it’s frustrating and underwhelming. It just doesn’t fit with the first film; there are plot holes and it undermines Snow White’s story. For that reason I found it hard to enjoy it. If you can think of it as its own story, as not being part of the Snow White and the Huntsman franchise, then it’s good. But otherwise it’s just not my cup of tea.

My Rating: 5.5/10

the huntsman: winter's war

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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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