The Huntsman: Winter’s War

Viewed – 21 April 2016  Cinema

Following some controversy over Kristen Stewart and the director of Snow White and the Huntsman, this sequel has languished in development with us not really knowing what we were getting.  Turns out a sort of origin tale and a sort of follow up, with mixed results.  Chris Hemsworth returns as the charismatic Huntsman whose growing love for fellow warrior Sara (Jessica Chastain) quickly catches the eye of bitter Freya, the sister of Charlize Theron’s Ravenna who has now turned Ice Queen following the death of her child and forbids the land from experiencing love.

The Huntsman

Despite lacking the scope of the actually very good Snow White and the Hunstman, and possibly on a smaller budget – this is still an entertaining ride.  Hemsworth is again charismatic even if his (Scottish?) accent is pretty bad.  The same can also be said for Chastain who makes for a bad-ass warrior woman but strays awkwardly between Irish Emily Bluntand Scottish.  Thankfully then their love affair and the rivalry between Emily Blunt’s Ice Queen and Theron’s Ravenna are all handled well and make up for what is otherwise quite simple fantasy fair.  The action, especially some awesome fight choreography is exciting, and we also get a couple of Dwarfs in the form of Nick Frost and Rob Brydon who makes for perfect comedy support as does a scene-stealing Sheridan Smith.

Considering how much the character is mentioned, the lack of an appearance by Snow White seemed odd (even if recast).  Also I’d have liked some larger-scale battles and a few more creatures and effects going on … but what we have instead is a focused tale of love and manipulation and rivalry that I thought worked a treat.  Perhaps dial one’s expectations back a tad, considering how spoilt we have been with Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings etc. and you should still get a kick out of this.

Verdict:  3 /5

Snow White and the Huntsman

Viewed – 29 September 2012  Blu-ray

Extended edition

I missed this during its theatrical run as there were other movies I was wanting to see.  Yet I have since heard very good things about it, so was eager to discover what all the fuss was about.  The casting of Kristen Stewart didn’t entirely excite me due to her involvement in the tiresome Twilight series, but with Thor’s charismatic Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman and a classic fairy tale back drop, I still had a feeling this was going to be good.

Snow White has been held in a tower for many years by evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) following the fall of her kingdom, and with the Queen beginning to run out of youthful peasants to drain the life force from, turns to Snow White who holds the key to her immortality.  Yet Snow White manages to escape, and befriends a world-weary Huntsman who has been hired to kill her.

A clever twist on a very old fairy tale, inspired by the Brothers Grimm short story and directed with no end of visual flair by relative newcomer Rupert Sanders.  Sort of a cross between Lord Of The Rings and Ridley Scott classic Legend, I was swept up in the good vs evil story with some quality acting, especially from Theron in a creepy, disturbing take on a classic character, and for an attractive but usually bland actress, Stewart suited her role well, and proved a lot fiestier than I thought possible.  Chris Hemsworth of course almost steals the show in a lovable rogue performance that is also different enough from Thor to make him one of the more enjoyable actors around.

As far as the formula goes, this doesn’t really do much we haven’t seen before, and the ending left me wanting – but I suppose that’s what sequels are for.  However, this offers up an intelligent and slick 2hrs with thrills a plenty, gorgeous imagery and impressive effects (check out the black glass soldiers – wow) – making this very much a must-see.

Verdict:  5 /5