‘The Huntsman Winter’s War’ is a ‘good family film’ with action, effects, but little attachment to characters
Fresh fallen snow and a frozen lake are visually appealing. But beyond the impact on the eyes, there’s not much more appeal for a Florida native. No childhood memories of sledding down a hill or strapping on ice skates for a frigid glide across the water’s surface.
The Huntsman: Winter’s War has a similar effect; a beautiful film with gorgeous scenery and fabulous costumes, but I don’t expect to see any kids dressed as the Huntsman this Halloween. There’s simply no great attachment to any of the characters.
Opening April 22, 2016, the film serves as both the prequel and the sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman by sharing the earlier days of the Evil Queen, Ravenna (Charlize Theron), during which she orchestrated an excruciating heartbreak for her sister Freya (Emily Blunt) and thus releasing her frozen magic and eventually reuniting the characters years later to show that love conquers all. Just as ABC’s Once Upon a Time morphs one fairy tale into another, Huntsman ties together the plots of the Ice Queen from both Frozen and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe to the dwarf quest for a magical object of The Lord of the Rings, and the eventual “happily ever after” ending of every Disney version of a fairy tale. It’s not a bad spin on combining these stories in a slightly different way, but it’s just another in the recent trend of fairy tale – fantasy world popularity. It makes me wonder if Hollywood is already tapped out of original ideas.
With fast-paced action sequences, great special effects, spectacular costumes (wouldn’t we all love to dress that way just for whimsy), and beautiful scenery, you almost miss the gorgeous cast. Almost, but who could ever really miss Chris Hemsworth? Hemsworth delivers a surprisingly charming performance for a character who was raised as part of a child army, forced to commit horrific acts, and then saw his wife brutally murdered before him. But it’s hard to fault Hemsworth for being charming as he entices the “back-from-the-dead” wife Sara (Jessica Chastain) back into his arms.
Blunt’s Freya comes across more as a sad, heartbroken figure than a terrifying, sadistic queen bent on destroying love in the world. But I must note that at least we don’t have to endure another monotonous Kristen Stewart performance which would have just been too much for me to take and severely reduced my opinion of the film overall.
Huntsman isn’t a “rush right out to see it” type of film, but it’s not a waste of time either. Not every film to hit the big screen is going to be mind-blowing, but that doesn’t mean it’s a flop. It’s a good family film with a live-action, slightly grown up twist on a fantasy-based story.
Overall, a good family film for those of us with teenagers at home.
The Huntsman: Winter’s War earns 3 out of 5 stars