Refuge Reviews- The Huntsman: Winter's War
Every year there are a handful of movies that get released that you know won't be good movies, but will entertain you despite that. The Huntsman: Winter's War is one such movie.
Huntsman is a prequel/sequel to 2014's Snow White and the Huntsman, which saw Kristen Stewart's Snow White defeat Chralize Theron's delightfully evil Queen Ravenna with the help of The Huntsman, Eric played by Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth. Winter's War starts not after that film but before, with Ravenna and her sister Freya played by Emily Blunt and a terrible event that leads to Freya becoming Elsa from Frozen, uh I mean, The Ice Queen! (sadly no "Let It Go" sing-a-long) We also get the backstory for Hemsworth's Huntsman who was raised by Freya to become a warrior who shall not love but of course falls in love anyway, with Merida from Brave, um, no, I mean Sara, played by Jessica Chastain, who just so happens to have an Scottish accent, red hair and be good with a bow. The story eventually begins after the events of the first film sans Snow White with a series of adventures on the path to destroying the Magic Mirror before Freya gets her cold hands on it. Its predictable stuff especially if you have seen the trailer which literally shows the majority of the final battle in it!
Despite the unoriginal story, the film is unquestionably gorgeous with awesome set design and a suitably magical musical score. The costumes in particular though stand out. The Ice Queen's armor and Ravenna's golden robes make each villainess more intimidating thanks to the always stellar work of Academy Award winning costume designer Colleen Atwood! The editing is mixed with some scenes being to rapid fire to see what's going on and others seemingly lingering too long. First time director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan was a visual effects artist before this which explains the gorgeous visuals but it also explains why some stretches of the movie seem to plod along with little direction.
While The Huntsman is simplistic fantasy fare, I still had a fun time watching the visually dynamic action scenes and the charismatic performance of Chris Hemsworth, who makes for a charming leading man. Also it bears mentioning that most of the comedy relief comes courtesy of a quartet of dwarves who accompany Eric and Sara on their adventure. They have genuinely funny banter that breaks up the more melodramatic moments. Also, fun fact: None other then Aslan himself, Liam Neeson narrates this film, which was an unexpected surprise. Is this a good movie? No. But did it entertain me for 2 hours? Yes. Check it out if you have 2 hours to burn some evening.
Rated PG-13 for fantasy action violence and some sensuality. The action is largely bloodless and most of it is against CGI creatures or faceless henchman. There is no language save for some charmingly British insults hurled by the dwarves. There is a couple scenes that are intimate moments between 2 characters that shows a little skin but no nudity. A couple of scenes could be a little scary for younger audience members. I would say 12 and up for The Huntsman: WInter's War would be appropriate.