The Huntsman: Winter’s War – An outstanding Chris Hemsworth romp
I’m not sure whether to call this an outstanding Chris Hemsworth romp or a below-average Charlize Theron outing. Either way The Huntsman: Winter’s War sits in the ‘meh’ category of fantasy-action films. Part prequel, part sequel, to 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman, Winter’s War is clearly made by some folks who were inspired by the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Above average CGI, grand cinematography, cute attention to detail (snakes covered in flowers, a tortoise covered in flowers, bunnies covered in….. you get where I’m going) and a plot that takes Tolkein to a completely new level (a mirror of power is waaaay bigger than a ring of power, and the two evil rulers here are women, not men, something of which Tolkein could not possibly have conceived), The Huntsman: Winter’s War will undoubtedly join the ranks of other such films which I will eventually confuse with one another.
I’m being a little unfair, as it is not a bad film. It certainly kept us entertained for a couple of hours. It’s just that it adds nothing new to the original story (although it is a marginally better film) and certainly does nothing new to a genre that is just screaming out for some originality.
The role of the titular Huntsman is actually a good one for Chris Hemsworth. Like most Aussie actors, Hemsworth’s multi-dimensional acting covers stoic-pragmatism and stoic-mirth very well, but as ‘The Huntsman’ he adds stoic-charm to his cavalcade of on-screen persona’s, and it works very well. I hardly cringed at all as he continually pressured his mentally and emotionally scarred wife into resuming their relationship where it left off many, many years ago. Charm over understanding and sensitivity works in the kingdom of Snow White. Hemsworth’s character is as uneven as his oft-disappearing Scottish accent, and at times his dialogue makes you want to look the other way.
Jessica Chastain as the long-lost wife, Sara, does what she can with the role, but there is little chemistry between herself and Hemsworth. Emily Blunt, as the Ice Queen Freya, is very good for the most part, but even she suffers when sharing screen-time with Theron, returning from the original film as the evil queen Ravenna. I’m an unashamed fan of Charlize Theron, and true to her nature, she steals every scene she’s in.
There are some bright spots. The dwarfs, Nick Frost returning as Nion, Rob Brydon as Gryff, Alex Roach as Doreena and Sheridan Smith as Bromyn, have some funny moments. Particularly when the four exchange barbs upon first meeting, the addition of the two female dwarfs certainly give both Frost and Brydon some wonderful moments. The scene at the goblin camp also hits a pretty decent note. But all in all my mind is already clouding over when trying to differentiate this from any other like-film.
The Huntsman: Winter’s War will keep you entertained if you have nothing better to do, but don’t put yourself out to see it. ‘Meh’ is where it’s at, but the beauty is that in 12 months time you’ll be able to watch it again without realising you’ve already seen it.