The Huntsman: Winter's War (2016) by The Critical Movie Critics

Movie Review: The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016)

For those who believe sequels are and integral part of the filmmaking process, I present the following recent exhibits: “The Hangover Part II,” “Star Trek Into Darkness,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Ted 2.” Yes, I realize there are also other examples where the sequel bested the original, such as “The Godfather Part II,” “Superman II” and “The Empire Strikes Back,” but these are extremely few and far between. Now comes The Huntsman: Winter’s War, another part two of a film franchise that fits more than comfortably into the completely unnecessary category than one which was overwhelming demanded.

When we last left our intrepid huntsman (Chris Hemsworth, “In the Heart of the Sea”), he and the presumptive Snow White (Kristen Stewart, “American Ultra”) were battling the evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron, coming off the great “Mad Max: Fury Road”), and practically destroying her, as directed by Rupert Sanders in his debut.

However, because that first movie (“Snow White and the Huntsman,” by the way) made more at the box office than it cost to make (it’s a called a “profit,” kids), the inevitable second installment was called for. Remember, in part one, we were led to believe that Stewart was fairer (or more beautiful) than Theron, (just like the producers believe that a sequel would be a good idea, I suppose).

However, since Stewart exhibited a rare bout of good sense about a role, her character is no longer available to us in The Huntsman: Winter’s War (there’s a few awkward references, but that’s about it). Instead, we’re given the queen’s younger sister, Freya (Emily Blunt, “Sicario”), who has a baby that dies and then turns into a character from Disney’s “Frozen,” only that she kidnaps innocent children and trains them to be Winter Soldiers (sorry, it had to be written). And, since the Norse God Thor (Hemsworth’s alter ego) is unable to handle things all by himself, Jessica Chastain (“The Martian”) arrives as a female huntsman, for whatever that’s worth.

Still, despite three terrific female actors (all of whom have won or been nominated for Golden Globes and/or Academy Awards), their characters are dependent on Hemsworth, even though he is less a part of the plot than he was in the original picture. He swings a mean axe and can fight with the best of them, but when he begins to talk, well, all bets are off.

Replacing Sanders behind the camera, is visual effects standout Cedric Nicolas-Troyan (also a first-time helmer), who makes an interestingly dark and FX laden product complete with small scale battles, bizarre animals, fairies, animated plants and other exotic creatures. Unfortunately, the gold-plating is less than satisfying and his movie still draws comparisons to the first film, which — as mentioned several times already — was not so special in the first place and left few calling for a second effort.

Teenage girls, who flocked (incredulously) to the 2012 version, have now gone on to more “intriguing” motion pictures (the “Divergent” and “Hunger Games” franchises, among them), leaving The Huntsman: Winter’s War without much of a political base — much like a Hollywood version of John Kasich to be as topical as possible. And with “Captain America: Civil War” less than a week away and “Zootopia” still on top, it’s going to be a long, long, dreary “Winter” for this production.

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
2 Star Rating: Bad


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The Critical Movie Critics

I have been a movie fan for most of my life and a film critic since 1986 (my first published review was for "Platoon"). Since that time I have written for several news and entertainment publications in California, Utah and Idaho. Big fan of the Academy Awards - but wish it would go back to the five-minute dinner it was in May, 1929. A former member of the San Diego Film Critics Society and current co-host of "The Movie Guys," each Sunday afternoon on KOGO AM 600 in San Diego with Kevin Finnerty.

'Movie Review: The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016)' have 8 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 4, 2016 @ 12:54 pm Caramel Waters

    I’m with you on most of your review but I’m not so sure Kristen Stewart skipped Winter’s War on her own merit. She was a large part of what was wrong with Huntsman, so I’m more inclined to believe she wasn’t asked back.

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 4, 2016 @ 1:36 pm Boothe

    Blunt and Theron and Chastain. :D

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 4, 2016 @ 3:15 pm vickramer

    A glorious film of scenery chewing cheese and syrup. A must watch for lovers of B-movie content in A-movie clothing!

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 4, 2016 @ 4:06 pm box o flies

    As bad as this looks in a fun way I’m not willing to pay for it. I’ll get my kicks from it when it shows up on Showtime in an endless cycle.

  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 4, 2016 @ 7:01 pm poemetic

    The first was good enough for a sequel in my opinion.

  6. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 4, 2016 @ 10:42 pm Apollo

    Hemsworth CAN do more than just swing a mean axe and fight with the best of them-he looks great wet and with his shirt off also.

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      May 5, 2016 @ 9:00 pm BritCoss

      Did I miss him being wet or shirtless? Heck, as I recall, Jessica Chastain showed off more than he did….

  7. The Critical Movie Critics

    February 6, 2017 @ 8:35 am Nick

    I enjoyed this more than the first one. Great characters, lots of action, amazing special effects.

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