Screen Gems review: "The Huntsman: Winter's War"

Courtesy: Universal Pictures

April 22, 2016
"The Huntsman: Winter's War"
Studio: Universal Pictures
Rated PG-13 for fantasy action violence and some sensuality

"The Huntsman: Winter's War" is set up as a prequel but it's really kind of a sequel. Or, perhaps it's a bit of both. I really can't tell because it's so boring and convoluted.

Following Snow White's victory over the evil queen, Hollywood couldn't resist going to the well once again. This time, Snow is nowhere to be found but we have plenty of ice and cold, thanks to villainous Queen Freya (Emily Blunt). Freya has suffered unspeakable tragedy at the hands of her sister, the now-dead evil queen Ravenna. Thanks to her trials, Freya's heart has grown cold, as good a reason as any to give her cold-based powers which harken to Disney's other "Frozen" queen, Elsa.

The story gives us a prelude which details how Freya steals children to create her own army. Among them, a young Eric, who will grow up to become the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara, who in a few years will be played by Jessica Chastain. Although love is forbidden in Freya's kingdom they fall for each other. The ice queen finds out and separates the pair, banishing Eric and putting mixed up visions about the breakup in both of their heads.

Skip forward a few years and we find Eric and Sara reunited. They reluctantly team up to stop Freya from acquiring her sister's magic mirror. However, they fail miserably. Freya gets her hands on the mirror and resurrects Ravenna, whose essence was trapped inside.

Now, with the two evil and powerful queens set to conquer the world, the Huntsman, Sara and their allies must fight for freedom.

This movie is a mess, jumping forward and backward in haphazard fashion. Too many plots points complicate the story to make it a jumbled mess. Hemsworth and Chastain are fine as the two main heroes, but Blunt is wasted as Freya. Structurally, when the movie brings back Theron for the last 1/3 of the story, it essentially demotes who was once the main villain to second fiddle. It's unnecessary and adds to the chaos of the plot. There was no need to include Ravenna in this tale because Blunt offered a perfectly fine villainous. The decision to include Ravenna and let her dominate the final moments of action and story basically ruins the film.

Director Cedric Nicholas-Troyan knows how to make a scene look cool, but apparently has no idea how to stitch a coherent story together. This is a big misfire which has a few good scenes but otherwise sinks under the weight of its own self importance.

On my rating scale, "The Huntsman: Winter's War" earns ONE DIAMOND out of four.

FOUR DIAMONDS=A fantastic movie! A must see!
THREE DIAMONDS=A good movie with minor flaws.
TWO DIAMONDS=An average movie with some entertaining scenes or performances.
ONE DIAMOND=A very poor movie with few entertaining scenes or performances.
LUMP OF COAL=Skip it, it's just plain awful.

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