Chris Hemsworth better start hoping that people are still into Thor because it seems like it’s the only thing going for him. Films like Blackhat and Into The Heart of the Sea both were flops at the box office and his future doesn’t look any better with Ghostbusters coming out this year. Snow White and The Huntsman was a 2012 film that did a different spin on the classic tale. Instead of being a damsel in distress, Snow White (Kristen Stewart) became a war hero alongside the Huntsman (Hemsworth) in a battle against the evil queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron).
The Huntsman: Winter’s War is the “prequel” that no one asked for. It revolves around Ravenna and her sister Freya (Emily Blunt). After a tragedy, Freya reveals her icy powers and creates an ice kingdom where she recruits huntsman as her army. It’s in the huntsman training where we see Hemsworth’s origin story. As a young boy, he competes for the top spot against Sara (Jessica Chastain), a fellow warrior who would eventually become his wife. But love is forbidden in Freya’s world and she deceives and separates them. Seven years later, after Eric has helped Snow regain her kingdom, they reunite and aim to stop Freya’s takeover.
As I was watching the film, I kept wondering why they were advertising this as a prequel. All the marketing suggests that this happened before the 2012 film, but that’s true for about 15 minutes; then a cheesy narration sums what Eric has been doing all of those years. Suddenly, we’re in sequel territory, and it’s a downward spiral from there. Seeing as how the director, Nicolas Cedric-Troyan, was the visual effects supervisor on the last Huntsman film, that explains why this film is such a mess. While the film looks pretty enough, but the plot was like a broken see-saw, constantly shifting from one tone to the next. Cedric- Troyan tries to balance humorous action adventure, but lacks the dialogue and story to do it.
For a film that tries so hard to be like Willow and Lord of the Rings, it feels like a bad Monty Python spoof . The humor is so forced and the director kept thinking that if Hemsworth just smiled goofily, it would suffice. Nick Frost had a few laughs here and there as the dwarven sidekick, but having the dwarves as the constant comic relief got exhausting after a while.
And even when it wasn’t trying to be funny, the dialogue was cheesy enough to warrant a few laughs, like Blunt’s constant screaming. For an all star cast, this was probably everyone’s worst film, especially Blunt, who felt like the female version of Eddie Redmayne in Jupiter Ascending. It’s a shame that Blunt and “worst” have to be in the same sentence, but there’s not one scene where she shines. Every action was melodramatic and over the top, making her more of a whiny baby than actual villain.
Even though it had its flaws, some people loved Snow White and The Huntsman because of Hemsworth. His character had some mystery to him and kept us wondering where he’s actually from. But, even with his origin story, it’s hard to care about him in The Huntsman. They take that mysterious personality and replaced it with a wooden caricature. Hemsworth looks very bored, and his cringe-y flirting tactics don’t exactly help.
The other big face of the marketing campaign is a huge bust as well. Theron is so underused that it’s a mystery why they even had her in the first place. She was the only good part of Snow White and the Huntsman and having her in this film might have worked. However, the way that she was reintroduced felt forced and proved that this film relied too hard on Theron’s presence to make any kind of money.
The Huntsman: Winter’s War feels like a mashup of all the leftover ideas that Frozen threw away. The lack of a compelling plot or characters keeps this film from reaching its true potential and instead makes it a cliche romantic adventure. Maybe if they threw in a catchy song of their own, people might not have been so cold towards it (pun very much intended).