‘The Huntsman: Winter’s War’ review: Excess doesn’t equal success
At The Movies
THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR
Directed By Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chastain, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Nick Frost, Rob Brydon, Sheridan Smith, Alexandra Roach
Universal, Rated PG-13, Fantasy, 108 minutes
Part prequel, part sequel, “The Huntsman: Winter’s War,” succeeds on a visual level, but largely fails to recreate what made “Snow White and the Huntsman” compelling.
Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron reprise their roles as The Huntsman and Queen Ravenna respectively, but the loss of Kristen Stewart’s Snow White, and the relatable emotions she evinced, are definitely missed.
Mistaking tragic events for emotional umph, this film attempts to convey despair via geodesic ice structures and cascading, mercurial golden figures. The color palette recalls that of “Narnia” and especially Disney’s “Frozen.”
For a brief moment, during the film’s opening scenes, we meet Queen Ravenna’s sister Freya (Emily Blunt) — still an ordinary woman. Freya is content to let Ravenna hog the limelight, until the self-centered Queen interferes in Freya’s forbidden love affair — one that has already resulted in Freya’s pregnancy with Snow White.
Following the child’s birth, Ravenna’s treachery unleashes Freya’s hidden supernatural powers — to conjure ice and freeze whatever and whomever she desires.
Freya flees the castle, and sets up shop in the north lands where she becomes its queen, raising an army of children whose parents she has killed in order to obtain the kids. Freya’s stated goal appears to be conquering the surrounding realms.
From this point forward, Freya and Ravenna are just so much background noise, giving way to the trials of Freya’s two best warriors, The Huntsman and Sara (Chris Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain).
Having grown from kiddies into young adults, they fall in love. Freya is outraged. Determined to separate the lovers for all time, she makes each believe the other has died or betrayed their love.
Freya accomplishes this illusion using her flashing blue eyes and by pointing her fancy finger rings (ending in claw-like, metal tips) to conjure an ice wall between the two, onto which she projects false images.
Fast forward seven years, when the lovers find one another again and are joined by a quartet of comical dwarfs. Together, they embark on a quest to recover Ravenna’s missing mirror, and to suspend its power by placing it within a special sanctuary.
If the dwarfs are stand-ins for hobbits, soon the company meets and battles creatures that recall LOTR’s Gollum and orcs, cementing the notion that every plot device, save Ravenna’s mirror, is borrowed from other, better films.
The derivative mix is so loosely knit that neither the movie’s action, nor reuniting the long-lost lovers, engenders empathy or excitement.
A film dripping in excess, the presence of so much silver and gold brings to mind the wealth these represent.
But as investment commercials for precious metals suggest, we should be mindful that, “Past gains do not guarantee future profits.” It’s a disclaimer I wished was also printed on this film’s trailers, posters and theatre tickets.