Movie Review: The Huntsman: Winter’s War

Overview:  There is a narration that tells us a bit about the first movie, and how Snow White killed Ravenna with the help of the Huntsman, then we go into backstory for the new film.  So, double backstory!

Ravenna and her sister, Freya, live in a castle together but Freya hasn’t come into her powers.  Ravenna thinks it’s because love is in the way, you can be powerful or you can be loved in this world.  She kills Freya’s child, blames it on someone else, and BAM, Freya is suddenly Elsa from Frozen.  She freezes everything and runs off to build her ice castle.  Once there, she starts stealing children to become her army (the awful narration says, “If she can’t have a child she’ll give birth to an army,” or something equally trite.)  They are called her Huntsman and taught ‘the greatest gift, to not love.’  There is one black child among the throngs of others because – diversity.  He is important, part of the triangle between loyalties.  Are you loyal to the queen or the lovers Eric (Hemsworth “The Huntsman” this movie is really about) and Sara (Merida from Brave, basically).

Stuff happens and the lovers are separated, then reunited years later while on a quest to find the magic mirror and destroy it so the Ice Queen doesn’t get it’s power.  They, of course, are mad at each other so there can be angry banter melting into sex.

There’s other stuff, too.  Ravenna comes back, Freya learns of her trickery, blah blah The Huntsman show’s how good he is, destroys the mirror, he gets everything a hero wins in these things.

The Good:  The reason why I watched this wasn’t the story.  I saw the first one and it was pretty damn bad, but it was pretty.  I like pretty, sometimes.  Some movies are made for plot or story and some for special effects, some to show things blowing up, etc.  This one had lush scenery and even more lush outfits for the two queens.  The special effects, in the beginning, were also beautiful.  A lot of ice stuff and the sound of crystallization that goes with it, a sound I find oddly soothing.  There was a lot of oozing cloth like stuff that was beautiful and first, then just became a vision of Nickelodeon Slime getting its own movie.  Seriously, they could have pulled back on that.

The music was also top notch.  I listened all the way through the credits.  In fact, half the time I was away from the screen (Getting bored) but loving the music as I cleaned or read or made my bed or many other things.

Oh, and Hemsworth (Chris) was his charismatic self here, winking and half grinning his way into all our hearts.

The Bad:  Pretty much everything else.  The story is . . .all over.  It starts by rehashing the first movie, then goes into the two queen’s fighting and the ice queen building her army, then to the Huntsman hunting the mirror, then the love story.  It reminded me of when I first taught my fiction students modular stories.  They loved it, and tried it, but there was no specific weight given to a story line to let us follow through – not in the early drafts.  This was a story in its early drafts.

The dialects- like, really?  I had no idea what was going with those.  If you’re going to have an international cast and a fairy tale setting, at this point just let them all speak naturally and blame it on ferries.  There wasn’t a rhyme or reason.

The oozing became so overdone.  I get it, women ooze.  How many times does that fetish/horror need to be played out on screen?  Poor Charlize Theron/Ravenna, her main power was to have her dress ooze some oily stuff that then became phallic.

The other bad thing is in the next section – everything female.

The Female:  There are a few women in here, who either get killed or paired off because in THIS world you either love a man or become a power crazed b– and die.  Simple mechanics.

And the film is a tease.  I remember the ads and stuff saying it’s about the sisters and it starts with them, but they’re just a frame for Hemsworth’s Huntsman and they’re pretty much not important except to set the quest in motion.  Tease tease tease.  Then they try to bring it back at the end with Freya finding out what her sister did but too late, man.  Way too late.  It’s not a story about sister’s, it’s a love story with Hemsworth at the Helm.

Freya:  She is the sister of Ravenna and longs for love.  She has love but then her baby is killed so she does what all women do when their children die- kidnaps everyone else’s and kills them if they so dare as love.  She’s pensive at parts, when she sees dwarves and realizes they are like children.  Poor Emily Blunt is trying to make this character more than an Elsa prototype, or Elsa fan fiction with no sex (if there’s such a thing).  Of course, since she still loves and yearns for a child she can help and redeem herself.  Go you, woman.

Ravenna:  She has some line about wanting to find love too, have a child, but- eh.  She’s in it to be the bad guy who gets the ball rolling but that’s about it.

Sara:  “Look women, we gave you a tough chick!  She goes toe to toe in combat with the others” – uh-huh, right.  Her role is to fall for Hemsworth, pretend to not love him until he grabs her and kisses her because women have wills only until they’re kissed then they’re owned, if not before.  So, there’s Sara.

The Dwarf Women:  There are two, they also pair up.  One also plays the ‘I don’t like you game’ with the guy, then goes for him.  The other’s are the simpleton’s, so they don’t have to pretend to hate each other and can just tell each other they like them and kiss and have babies.

The other thing here, every woman except for the dwarves has their waists cinched to within an inch of their lives.  Even the ‘strong warrior woman’ has to go around looking like she she has a waist that can snap in two with a strong breeze.  Breathing is for men, anyway.  No one wants to marry a woman with full lung capacity.

Overall – beautiful if not engaging and becoming tedious by the end and ultimately formulaic in story.  At least the chemistry between Chastain and Hemsworth was way better than when The Huntsman was supposed to fall for Snow White.

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