Sunday, April 24, 2016

Review: The Huntsman: Winter's War

Image courtesy of Universal Pictures.
The obligatory and unnecessary "The Huntsman: Winter's War" isn't so much bad - which is not to say that it's good -  as it is uninspiring. Yes, I realize I am not the target audience for the picture, but it's so by-the-book and safe that it nearly brings back fond memories of "Snow White and the Huntsman." Note, I said nearly.

In this prequel-sequel, two sisters - one fairly good spirited (Emily Blunt) and the other (Charlize Theron) not so much - rule the fairy tale land where they live. Theron's Ravenna is a spiteful and nasty creature who is beholden to the mirror on the wall that tells her that her beauty will be outdone by Freya's (Blunt) daughter, so she takes drastic action - one that leaves Freya bitter and alone in an icy kingdom far, far away. So, if you're looking for a grouchier version of "Frozen," you're in luck.

Freya raises her own army, training them to be warriors and instilling in them that love, you know, sucks. However, that can't stop the blooming romance between her two finest warriors - Eric (Chris Hemsworth, reprising his role from "Snow White") and Sara (Jessica Chastain, sporting a grimace that notifies us that she knows she likely has better places to be than this one).

Freya, angry that someone else is having a better time than she is, pulls a passive aggressive move and breaks apart the two lovers, who spend years wandering the wilderness before running into one another again and setting out on a quest from preventing Freya from getting ahold of her sister's powerful mirror. Along the way, they pick up some dwarfs, fight some ogres and fall back in love because what else do you expect to happen?

"Winter's War" attempts to create some suspense as to whether what we know to be almost certain will happen actually happens. No such luck. The only real surprise in the picture is that Snow White's character is revisited only through dialogue referencing her and literally one shot of her looking in the mirror, but from behind.

As I've mentioned, this is a movie that likely exists due to its predecessor performing well enough at the box office and not because this was a story screaming to be told. It's competently enough made, although its solid cast could be put to better use elsewhere. It's not the fairest of them all, but merely fair.

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