Review: The Huntsmen: Winter's War, D
Rated PG-13, 123 minutes
Mirror, mirror on the wall, what's the biggest mess of a movie seen in some while? That would be "The Huntsmen: Winter's War," a big-budget sequel/prequel to the 2012 hit "Snow White and the Huntsmen," a flavorless movie that didn't need another film. To its credit, there are some decent visuals and is well-cast, but the story, loosely based on the beloved "Snow White" fairy tale (yet Snow White isn't even in it, go figure), is a confusing, dreary ripoff of "Frozen." Betrayed by her evil sister Ravenna (Charlize Theron), heartbroken Freya (Emily Blunt) retreats to a northern kingdom to raise an army of huntsmen as her protectors. Gifted with the ability to freeze her enemies in ice, Freya teaches her young soldiers to never fall in love. When Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and fellow warrior Sara (Jessica Chastain, wasted here) defy this rule, the angry queen does whatever she can to stop them. As war between the siblings escalates, Eric and Sara unite with Freya to end Ravenna's wicked reign. Directed by "Snow White and the Huntsmen's" visual director, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, the unoriginal "The Huntsmen: Winter's War" is as muddled, loud and clunky as the costumes or that lumbering bear/tiger thing Blunt rides mid-film, lacking an emotional center and any coherent ties to the first film. Thanks to Theron and Blunt, the "Frozen"-esque squabbles between the queen sisters is mildly entertaining, but there's a good portion of the film that goes off course, instead focusing on the relationship between the Hemsworth and Chastain characters, whose backstory matters little to the plot itself, mixed with some bizarre, unfunny attempts at humor, provided by some dwarfs, including Nick Frost, who reprises his character Nion, and his half-brother Gryff (Rob Brydon). The awful script seems to have gone through numerous rewrites and additions here, adding some nice but silly visuals, probably attempting to spruce up the drab proceedings a bit, only wastes a talented cast, primarily Theron as the evil queen, who was the best part of the bland original film but who is missing for a good chunk of "Winter's War" and seems to lack an edge here. Blunt has more screen time and is slightly better but is stuck with the less interesting character, while Chastain and Hemsworth are wasted as bland, secondary eye candy. Apparently "Winter's War" is a completely different story than the other film with little to do with Snow White, instead focusing on the power struggle between the queen sisters; whatever this is supposed to be - fairy tale/action-adventure/fantasy, I'm unsure, really - it all ends rather strangely, given Theron's huge presence in the first film, one of the many baffling things about it. On that note, "The Huntsmen: The Winter's War" is a big-budget misfire and a waste of your time, something that not even a magic mirror could help.