Movie Review

The Huntsman: Winter's War

The story before Snow White
The Huntsman: Winter's War Movie Poster

US Release Date: 04-22-2016

Directed by: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan


  • Chris Hemsworth
  • The Huntsman / Eric
  • Charlize Theron
  • Ravenna
  • Jessica Chastain
  • Sara
  • Emily Blunt
  • Queen Freya
  • Nick Frost
  • Nion
  • Rob Brydon
  • Gryff
  • Sheridan Smith
  • Mrs. Bromwyn
  • Alexandra Roach
  • Doreena
  • Liam Neeson
  • Narrator
  • Sope Dirisu
  • Tull
  • Sam Hazeldine
  • Leifr
  • Sam Claflin
  • William
  • Sophie Cookson
  • Pippa
  • Conrad Khan
  • Young Eric
  • Niamh Walter
  • Young Sara
  • Nana Agyeman-Bediako
  • Young Tull
  • Amelia Crouch
  • Young Pippa
  • Fred Tatasciore
  • Mirror Man
  • Ralph Ineson
  • Barkeep
  • Robert Portal
  • King
Reviewed on: April 22nd, 2016
Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron in The Huntsman: Winter's War.

Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron in The Huntsman: Winter's War.

When I sat down to watch this prequel/sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman, I realized that I could remember very few specific details about the first film. The only detail I could really remember was that during the making its star Kristen Stewart was photographed in a compromising position with the film's director, neither of whom return for this film. In terms of plot, I could just about remember that Charlize Theron was a scene stealer as the evil queen and that was about it. With such few memories my expectations for the sequel were pretty low and it matched them.

The plot begins as an origin story for the Huntsman, played by Hemsworth. It also serves to introduce Emily Blunt as Freya, the Ice Queen, and sister to Charlize Theron's Ravenna. After the murder of Freya's daughter, by the baby's father, Freya just can't let it go. She sets up her own kingdom in the North where she sweeps the countryside stealing children to train into her personal army of Huntsmen. Among them are Eric and Sara, who grow up to be played by Hemsworth and Chastain and as attractive people do in movies when they're thrown together, they fall in love, something that Freya has forbidden.

After the lovers are caught, Eric is banished from the kingdom under the belief that Sara is dead. The story then skips ahead until after the events of the first film. Eric's help is sought by the prince because the magic mirror has been stolen. Eric sets off in hot pursuit, accompanied by just one of the Dwarfs from the first film, played by Nick Frost, and a new dwarf played by Welsh comedian Rob Brydon. They are joined along the way by a couple of female dwarfs and a woman from Eric's past, the identity of whom you can probably guess.

One improvement over the first film is the inclusion of some welcome humor, mostly provided by the dwarfs. Frost and Brydon are there for comic relief and their interactions with the female dwarfs are some of the film's lightest moments. Hemsworth too has lightened up. He seems to enjoy being the Huntsman and getting to kick ass. Even the darker moments regarding his and Chastain's relationship don't drag the film down into the dour territory of the first film. This is a lighthearted adventure film rather than the wannabe epic of the first.

The biggest problem with the story is the predictability of it all. You can see where it's all headed from the beginning and there are no surprises along the way. It plays out strictly by the numbers. All of the "twists" are telegraphed a long way in advance.

Although in the first film, Theron ran away with the film, it's much more evenly distributed this time. By playing it lighter, Hemsworth gets to show a bit of charm. Chastain gets to kick ass a few times, even if it is some combination of CGI and stunt work. Theron is still appropriately chewing the scenery. Blunt is the glummest of the characters, but it suits the character and the story. There's definitely no shortage of talent in front of the camera and K-Stew is definitely not missed.

On a very a shallow level, this movie manages to mildly entertain. It still feels like a completely unnecessary sequel and one that could have been trimmed by at least 15 minutes, but thanks mainly to the cast and the lighter tone, it does manage to slightly improve upon the original.

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