FILM REVIEW – ‘THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR’ (2016)

Dark fantasy/adventure film The Huntsman: Winter’s War opens in U.S. theaters Friday, April 22, 2016. Nerd Nation Magazine was in attendance for the official early press screening the previous Tuesday, courtesy of Universal Pictures, Allied Marketing, and Regal Cinemas.

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(image courtesy of Universal Pictures)

The Huntsman: Winter’s War is a prequel of 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman, it gives us a little background on how the Huntsman/Eric (Chris Hemsworth of Thor and The Avengers series) came into being. Parallel to his story is the story of two witch queen sisters, Ravenna (Charlize Theron of Mad Max: Fury Road) and Freya (Emily Blunt of Sicario) and the event that brought out Freya’s powers. Included in this tale is the story of love and loss between Eric and his forbidden lover, Sara (Jessica Chastain of The Martian). Throw in the beautiful voice talents of Mr. Liam Neeson and you have the makings of a very decent movie.

Now, getting right to it. Was this movie great? Meh. Not exactly. It is good enough to see in theaters, though. Personally, I’ll probably buy it when it comes on DVD/BluRay later this year. The special effects and wardrobe alone are worth the price of a ticket. Awesome work, ladies and gents. I especially loved Freya’s armored cape. My one complaint about the F/X: what the heck was the deal with the goblins? Why were they little more than gold rimmed sexless monkeys? (Yes, the plot mistakes were particularly bad at this point in the movie).

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(image courtesy of Universal Pictures)

The story, on the other hand, needed a little tweaking to make this movie a lot better. Some of the scenes seemed a little rushed and formulaic. Maybe a few less shots of star Chris Hemsworth looking adorable (and adorable he absolutely was) and maybe a bit more plot development and this story would be worth paying the full price at an ultra-posh theater. I’m hoping that the DVD release will have a director’s cut that will include deleted scenes that will flush out the story more. An additional ten to fifteen minutes of movie time would really help fill in the gaps.

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(image courtesy of Universal Pictures)

Even though she isn’t in the movie much, Charlize Theron really does a wonderful job of making you want her dead. Beautiful, elegant, sophisticated, and appropriately twisted, she makes the atypical role of “evil queen” seem like a gentle nanny in comparison to her Ravenna. Blunt‘s Freya left you cold and yet sympathetic to her, which I believe was the desired effect of her character. Chastain‘s Sara was pretty badass, kicking some serious butt, but she left you wondering if she had any real emotional attachment. Her relationship with Hemsworth‘s Eric didn’t really develop into much more than a gentle sizzle, leaving you feeling that it was more of a “roll in the hay” type of relationship rather than a lasting love affair.

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(image courtesy of Universal Pictures)

The Bottom Line:
Overall, The Huntsman: Winter’s War was what it was – an above-average attempt at a typical Hollywood dark-fantasy film. I liked the movie, but I didn’t love it. A few tweaks here and there would improve it greatly. Great F/X and costuming, wonderful score, excellent fight sequences, but with some plot mistakes and holes that might leave you scratching your head, taking you away from the experience. Definitely worth seeing, especially if you enjoyed the previous film, but nothing that’s going to light the cinema world on fire. – 7.0/10

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-Hannah Collins
Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine

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