Review: The Huntsman: Winter’s War

A prequel/sequel hybrid to tell the story before and after Snow White came into the picture, focusing on Ravenna’s (Charlize Theron) sister Freya (Emily Blunt) as well as original Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) and new Huntsman Sara (Jessica Chastain). When the mirror is taken, the Huntsman must track it down before it falls into ice queen Freya’s hands and she becomes unstoppable.

Taking a fairytale and turning it into something akin to action and adventure is no easy task but it is made much more achievable with a stellar cast, not just our main stars of Hemsworth, Blunt, Chastain and Theron but also our dwarves played by Nick Frost, Rob Brydon, Alexandra Roach and Sheridan Smith, the combination of whom make for the perfect team in tackling pantomime style, warrior action and comedy. The banter between Brydon’s Gryff and Smith’s Mrs Bromwyn is quite possibly the most entertaining aspect that the film has to offer, second to Hemsworth’s cheeky charm and chemisty with Chastain’s Sara. The appearance of the characters is aesthetically very pleasing, particularly Blunt’s ice queen Freya with a huge amount of detail in her frosty frocks and face masks, which increases how enjoyable the film is. The addition of the new cast members has made a huge difference to the film’s tone from the original and they were no doubt good choices by the casting team, although it feels like Chastain’s Scottish Huntsman could have been played by home grown talent but it doesn’t take away from the fact her portrayal is decent. The second issue is that Blunt feels fairly underused, she’s shown she has significant talent and is a first class actress but this film doesn’t ask that much of her, a few moments of emotional turmoil but otherwise it’s fairly simple, although that just makes all the more reason why she’s fantastic as Freya; because this is something she could probably do in her sleep. The real shining star in the cast is Sheridan Smith, she is fairly unfamiliar with the big screen but is a treasure of Britain and provides a huge portion of the comedy for the film, with great delivery and despite sounding negative, it’s a compliment that she was perfect for the part of Mrs Bromwyn.

As for the story itself, it feels fairly slim in parts and for a film that should carry more heft on the back of its fantasy element, it fails to hit particularly hard and does not create a great deal of excitement. The real attraction of the film is without doubt the team chemistry, these actors work flawlessly together and are wonderful to watch interact. Despite that, it can’t hold up a plot which is fairly simple and lacking depth to delve into, it could do with a large amount of strengthening and filling out but given that the target audience is probably starting from a fairly young age, it makes sense why this isn’t present.

In comparison to the first film it delivers and yet still doesn’t feel as though it’s adding a huge amount. The team dynamic is undeniable and a pleasure to watch but with a 2 hour running time it needs more elements to make it something great. The film is missing that wow factor, and it’s a shame because you can see the work that went into making it, this is no franchise maker but it’s a fun one time outing.

Verdict: 6.5/10

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