The Huntsman: Winter's War

Directed By: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Nick Frost, Sam Claflin, Rob Brydon, and Jessica Chastain

I don't exactly frequent Rotten Tomatoes, but there seems to be no middle ground these days.  Movies are either universally acclaimed or universally loathed.  Hardly any movies are landing anywhere between 30% and 79% these days.  Movies like The Jungle Book and Zootopia comfortably fall in the former category while Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and The Boss fall in the latter.  It's safe to say that the critical community is moving in unison these days.  Well, the trend continues with this weekend's Snow White and the Huntsman spinoff sequel, which sits in the whopping teens from what I've read.  I didn't love The Huntsman: Winter's War, but I don't think it was quite that bad.  Everyone critiquing in unison may not be enabling readers to distinguish below average films from genuinely awful ones.

Years ago, the evil queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) rules her kingdom with her sister Freya (Emily Blunt) by her side.  Her sister's powers have yet to reveal themselves, and Ravenna takes matters into her own hands to move the process along.  Putting a spell on the Duke of Blackwood (Colin Morgan), Freya's fiancé, Ravenna orchestrates the murder of Freya's child.  She effectively kills all the love in her sister’s life.  This naturally turns Freya's heart to ice, both metaphorically and quite literally.  Freya becomes the Ice Queen and makes her way north to form her own kingdom.  There, she robs children of their parents, makes them live without love, and turns them into an army of her huntsmen.  Things don't quite go as planned for huntsmen Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain), who fall in love and violate the laws of Freya’s kingdom.  When she learns of this, Freya freezes any prospects of their happily ever after.

Seven years after the events of Snow White and the Huntsman, Freya's armies have conquered a massive kingdom for her, but Snow White rules an even more robust kingdom to her south.  After having defeated Ravenna, the Huntsman Eric continues to wander the woods, living life without love.  Meanwhile, the mirror on the wall Ravenna once commanded is growing more and more powerful by the day.  It eventually goes missing.  Fearing that it could get into the hands of Freya and make her unstoppable, Snow White sends troops to find the Huntsman and send him on one more mission — to retrieve the mirror.  Eric reluctantly agrees and goes on another dangerous venture to find Ravenna's mirror.  Once again, he has some unexpected help, and it's not Snow White this time around.

Trying to capture the audience Snow White and the Huntsman conjured some four years ago, The Huntsman: Winter's War doesn't exactly hit its mark.  With director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan aiming for something darker and more violent, the fantasy adventure lacks the magic and wonder of typical films of the genre.  Still, it's got the likes of Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, and Jessica Chastain on hand in addition to the mighty Thor.  Apparently, this outstanding cast isn't enough to save a lackluster narrative and a clear cash grab.  Though admittedly, I did enjoy the chemistry between Theron and Blunt as warring sisters.  They make for an intriguing pair.  All in all, The Huntsman: Winter's War is devoid of the semblance of magic that propelled its predecessor to a couple of notches above mediocrity some four years ago.

Doomed from the day this sequel was conceived, The Huntsman: Winter's War has two things going for it, Charlize Theron and halfway decent action sequences.  Reprising her role as Ravenna, Theron is a delight whenever she's on screen.  Evil incarnate and adding an intriguing villain to this otherwise bland picture, Theron is everything this movie so desperately needs. Unfortunately, we get too little time with the Mad Max: Fury Road star on screen.  Aside from Theron, I will say that the action sequences are pretty decent and hold my attention for the most part.  Still, we could've used a few more to distract us from the pain of watching The Huntsman.

I don't think that The Huntsman: Winter's War is as abysmal as its Rotten Tomatoes score indicates, but it's not exactly a film I loved.  Grab a few whiskey sours with this one.  The Huntsman: Winter's War gets a 0.09% rating.