‘The Huntsman’ takes aim, shoots and misses the mark in the latest film of The Huntsman franchise.


The Huntsman: Winter’s War spends the duration of the film — about one hour and 45 minutes — hunting for a substantial plot. The film is the second in The Huntsman franchise, and hopefully, it is the last one.

When Queen Freya’s (Emily Blunt) child is murdered, she sets out to raise her own child army and lead a land devoid of love. She calls the army of children “The Huntsmen,” and two of her subjects are Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain). This all takes place before Snow White defeated Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron). Seven years after Ravenna is killed, the evil inside Ravenna’s mirror is driving Snow White to insanity, so the kingdom tries to get rid of it. When the mirror is stolen, Snow White sends Eric out on a mission to retrieve it.

Cedric Nicolas-Troyan’s The Huntsman: Winter’s War lacks a clear plot structure, and this is due to the fact that the film is simultaneously a prequel and a sequel. The first 20 minutes or so tell the story of Freya, Eric and Sara, which is the best part of the film. The struggle that Freya has and the story of Eric and Sara is much more interesting than the sequel portion of the film. If Nicolas-Troyan would have strictly made the the film a prequel, it would be a stronger film. When we get to the sequel portion of the film, Snow White is mentioned once. It seemed as if the movie needed Snow White. It should not have mentioned her if she was only going to be in the film for less than 10 seconds.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War also lacks originality. It comes across as a blend of three different Disney movies: Brave, Frozen and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Sara is a red-headed Irish-woman who wields a bow and arrow that, when she shoots it, “she never misses.” Sara is also perceived as a very strong, independent character, just like Merida from Brave. The Frozen aspect stems from the plotline of Freya and Ravenna. Freya is an evil ice princess, similar to Elsa. In this representation of Frozen, Ravenna is comparable to an evil version of Elsa’s sister Anna. Freya is also similar to Tilda Swinton’s character the White Witch from the first Narnia film. Freya and the White Witch are dressed alike and, at one point, Freya even rides in on a polar bear-tiger hybrid. Freya possess the power to freeze people just like the White Witch can turn people to stone. Both characters have a courtyard that is filled with these human statues.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War simply mooched off Disney’s characters instead of putting in the work to create dynamic, captivating characters. The only character with any substance was Freya. Blunt did an amazing job playing an evil character — which is not a role we see her in very often. Blunt was exceptional at portraying Freya's internal conflicts. Hemsworth, Chastain and Theron all played static characters and delivered forgettable performances. Theron was in the film for approximately 30 minutes, which is a shame because she is a fantastic actress and deserved more screen time.

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The most annoying parts of the film were left to the comic relief. Those scenes were funny at first but grew tiring as they became more frequent. There were not many dramatic moments, therefore the comic relief was unnecessary. It seemed as if the comic relief was relieving the comedy — these scenes ended up being consecutive and did not add anything to the story. The dialogue was atrocious and the manner in which the comedy was delivered seemed forced. The actors were trying way too hard to be funny.  

There were only two aspects to this film that did not entirely miss the mark — the music and narrator Liam Neeson. The composer, James Newton Howard, compensates for the lousy dialogue with his beautifully written score. Where the dialogue and acting fails to produce emotion, the score makes up for it by creating tension and capturing what emotions are supposed to be conveyed. The voice-over narrations give the film a storybook feel. It feels as if the narrator is reading the story to the audience.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War is a discombobulated mess. Nicolas-Troyan should have taken the time to make sure the movie was organized and made sense. If the film happens to break even or make money, hopefully they will save the time and trouble of not making another film in this franchise.

Rating: 1 /5



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