December 3, 2016

Review: ‘The Huntsman: Winter’s War’ is a beautiful misfire

Who needs Frozen 2 when you can see The Huntsman: Winter’s War? After all, the storyline is just a ripoff of Queen Elsa, minus the songs and the loving sisterhood.

This prequel to 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman is not nearly as good or fun as its predecessor. The Huntsman: Winter’s War tells the story of two royal sisters before Snow White ever comes into the picture. A war between queen sisters Freya (Emily Blunt) and Ravenna (Charlize Theron) begins after Freya’s secret lover backstabs her and kills her infant daughter. Freya is too distraught to stay in the castle in which her daughter was killed, so she flees to build her own kingdom and leaves Ravenna behind to lead their homeland.

Freya’s heart turned cold after her daughter was murdered, and everything she touches turns to ice. She even has special powers with which she can create ice with her bare hands. When Freya flees to start her own kingdom, she builds herself an ice castle in the remote mountains (Elsa ripoff alert). If she was denied raising a child, she would raise an army instead and create an all-powerful kingdom. Both sisters crave power at all costs, and thus their war against each other begins.

In the meantime, Freya’s army has two shining stars, Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain). Though they are raised to protect Freya, they try to hide their love for each other, for Freya’s biggest rule in her kingdom is to never, ever fall in love.

If you are planning on seeing plenty of screen time for Charlize Theron (as the trailers allude to), do not get your hopes up. Theron is only in the movie for the very beginning and for the third act; she is absent for majority of the film. Which is really too bad, because Theron is the best part about the movie.

Theron is perfectly cast as evil queen Ravenna, just as she was originally perfectly cast for the same role in Snow White and the Huntsman. Theron exudes confidence, beauty, deceptiveness and all-around evilness that her character requires. She is over-the-top, but she understands her role for what it is (a fantasy character), and she embraces that. The other actors give competent performances, but nothing special.

The best parts about the movie besides Theron are the costumes and set designs. Every detail in every costume is exquisite, but unfortunately glitter and gold cannot support a failing script. The story is muddled, confusing at times and sometimes entirely boring. Not to mention, the narration by Liam Neeson is completely unnecessary and bordering on an insult to the audience’s intelligence. There is really no reason for this movie to have been made, other than knowing it might make decent money. Snow White and the Huntsman did not need a prequel, and the franchise certainly would have been better off without this bland addition.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War looks beautiful, but does not amount to much in the end. Gorgeous costumes and short screen time for Theron does not make up for a messy script and a complete ripoff of Disney’s Frozen.
Rating: 4/10

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