The Huntsman: Winter’s War is a completely unnecessary prequel, sequel and spin-off but that is not to say it is not without merits. Snow White and The Huntsman was a big hit for Universal but bad press followed when it was published that the married director Rupert Sanders and young starlet Kristen Stewart had been involved in an affair. Sometimes the public doesn’t care about such things but sometimes it causes issues and given it ended the relationship between Stewart and her Twilight co-star Robert Pattison the media interest was going to reach fever pitch. Snow White had proved a bona fide hit for young Stewart offering her chance to get work beyond the Twilight franchise and quirky indie hits. So what to do after shitting the bed? movies kristen stewart ms snow white swathThe inevitable follow-up went through a stilted development with whether Sanders would return (he didn’t), Stewart would reprise her role (she doesn’t) and whether the film that followed focussing on The Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) would be a prequel? (hmm kinda).

Following the events of the first film we get into the back story of Eric, The Huntsman which turns out to be quite a tale requiring us to look back at events involving Ravenna (Charlize Theron) many years before Snow White. Freya (Emily Blunt) a younger sister of Ravenna following a personal tragedy left for the icy north where she raised an army out of soldiers captured and trained to fight from childhood. Her finest soldiers are Sara (Jessica Chastain) and Eric who plan to escape and marry which is forbidden in Freya’s Kingdom. When Freya learns of this Eric sees Sara murdered before him and barely escapes to the southern kingdom where he will take part in the first film’s events. Now in present day a darkness has taken over Snow White’s Kingdom and Snow White herself (the great triumphant female heroine from the first film reduced to a shot from behind of her sick and knelt in front of her nemesis’s Magical Mirror) and maybe only the mighty Tho-sorry Eric can save us.

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On paper The Huntsman appears like a poor cash in, the focus has shifted to a side character, the original’s visual effects supervisor Cedric Nicolas-Troyan is making his directorial debut with this film and seven dwarves have shrunk to two (we get four in the end). The budget of the original was $170 million dollars and this sequel cost $110 million dollars, while the film looks good and sports great effects, sets and sequences it lacks the large scale set pieces with extras and real locations that the original sported. Despite what the marketing would have you believe, the franchise’s biggest star Charlize Theron is mostly absent from proceedings essentially showing up in the third act with a glorified cameo as if the filmmakers didn’t trust their own tale to carry enough impact without her. Which given how much the film lifts when she appears may just be good common sense on their part. Balancing this out is newcomers Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain who are two of the hottest young actresses working in Hollywood at the moment. Hot in the sense

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but also hot in the sense that their proven talent and previous work makes them highly sought after. Their casting lends a lot of prestige to this sequel which at times often feels like half measures compared to the original. Blunt conveys a steely bitter resolve that you never quite trust will not crumble (she’s been better in other films but it makes sense for her not to quite have the presence of Theron) and Chastain is suitably kick-ass.

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Chris Hemsworth enjoys his opportunity to be the lead albeit in yet another ensemble, sporting a fake Scottish accent, smiling charmingly and filing out leather pants as good as Chastain does (why doesn’t she gets sleeves too or perhaps the question should be why does he have sleeves?!). The previous film allowed him in one scene to really stretch his acting muscles too, I’m not sure this sequel did but his performance is fun enough. That’s the entire film in a way, completely unnecessary but fun enough. There are wisecracks, loved up couples all around, castles, sorceress’s, monsters, fights, and all shot effectively, all told with a wink and a smile. Hey, I’m not complaining.

-Lloyd Marken

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  1. Sounds like an entertaining way to spice up a boring day. I love the cast and would watch it for them. The trailers look menacing, the plot predictable. Very nice review, Lloyd. Watching hot people, male or female, sleeves or not, is what a lot of folks want to see! Did you like the Medieval soap opera, Game of Thrones?

    1. Thanks Cindy, watching it for the cast alone about sums up why I saw it. Also my wife won free tickets 🙂 Game of Thrones is my favourite TV show in the world but gee it’s hard to watch sometimes. Do you dig it?

      1. I binged on the first season last summer then put it aside. There’s a lot to love about it. I am not madly in love with it like my addiction to Sherlock. I am looking forward Dr. Strange now just because of Benedict.

      2. Yes I have to catch up with Sherlock. I’m excited by Dr. Strange being a new character like Guardians of the Galaxy were. What did you think of the trailer?

  2. Good review, Lloyd, and containing that key word- ‘Unnecessary’.
    I watched the original, as I actually know one of the cast – Johnny Harris- , quite well, and I have met Eddie Marsan on occasion too. I tend to watch anything they appear in, because of that. Otherwise, I thought it was a quite-good film for slightly older children. I have absolutely no interest in the private lives of starlets, directors, or anyone in the film industry. So what they get up to, and who they split up with, I leave to the Facebook generation.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. That’s awesome Pete. I love Eddie Marsan, have been enjoying his quiet performance on Ray Donovan. I’ll keep an eye out for Johnny Harris, apparently he’s doing his first lead role at the moment. As far as celebrities private lives go I do tend to think they should be afforded as much privacy as we would hope to have for ourselves. “Do Not Judge, or You Too Will Be Judged” is not a bad way to look at it. Although sometimes I admit I do take an interest or have an opinion. In the case of the Stewart/Sanders matter I just feel it’s a shame for all involved in terms of their careers and more importantly their families. But caring more than that I will leave as you say to the Facebook generation. Or Instragram I guess is what’s hot now. 🙂

      1. I can recommend Johnny’s lead role in ‘London to Brighton’, and his TV role in Shane Meadows’ ‘This is England’ was a critical smash, as well as an acting tour-de-force. But I am biased…
        Regards, Pete.

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