Film Review: The Huntsman: Winter’s War

Written by Megan LaBruna

Huntsman poster

The Huntsman: Winter’s War Plot Summary:

After the death of her baby Freya, sister of evil queen Ravenna, forsaking love, wages war on surrounding kingdoms kidnapping children to help build her army of huntsmen.

My first thought while watching The Huntsman: Winter’s War is that this movie is basically Frozen, if both princesses had powers and they were both evil.  So really not at all, but apparently Ice queens are a popular theme as of late.  For those concerned with the fact that Ravenna (Charlize Theron) is present in this film, despite being killed in the previous one, Winter’s War serves as a prequel to Snow White and the Huntsman.  It tells of what these evil queens were up to way before snow white was even conceived.  To no surprise, Ravenna is a terrible queen, killing every one of her husbands and taking over their kingdoms one at a time.  Her sister Freya (Emily Blunt) is the only thing she truly cares about in the world, which is why she has her reigning by her side every time, that is, until Freya falls in love.

Huntsman pic 1

Although her love is set to marry another, Freya believes he will marry her and help raise their baby.  When she receives a letter from him saying he intends to do exactly that, she heads to the rendezvous point noted in the letter, only to find out he has used the letter as a distraction so that he can burn down the nursery that holds his illegitimate child. This act of horror unleashes the power within Freya turning her into the Ice Queen.  Never fully recovering from the traumatic loss of her child, Freya makes it her mission to rid the nearby kingdoms of love and steal the children so she can raise them within the walls of her kingdom to learn to abstain from love and to live only to wage war on others who pose a threat to the Ice Queen.

This is where the story ties in with the previous film.  One of the children she kidnaps grows up to be Eric (Chris Hemsworth), the huntsman from the Snow White tales that helps to bring down Ravenna.  This film stands to provide viewers insight into what happened before that fairytale.  This is the story of how Eric met his wife Sara (Jessica Chastain).  They both grew up from children into adults within the Ice Queen’s castle.  They were two of the best huntsmen she had.  Eric and Sara of course fall in love and attempt to run away together, only to be stopped by the Ice Queen and forced to fight their way to freedom.  Unfortunately, this is the point where Sara dies and Eric goes on to help Snow White several years later.

The storyline does a good job of starting as a prequel and then shifting to what happens after Snow White takes back her kingdom and refocuses on how Eric plans to defeat the Ice Queen.  I have to wonder if the plot for this film was intended to unfold the way it did, or if the script was rewritten with a surprise twist to avoid having Snow White appear in this film, due to the drama that surrounded the last one.  Either way, the plot twist was unexpected and my favorite part of the film.  The rest, however, is fairly predictable.

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So how is Ravenna back in the movie after being killed by Snow White? Easy, she’s not really alive, and also not really dead.  She is part of the mirror, so when her sister Freya releases her from the mirror’s grasp, Ravenna is ready to start where she left off as queen.  Unfortunately she utters something that leads Freya to realize she was behind the death of Freya’s daughter.  As it turns out, Freya’s daughter would have grown up to be “the fairest of them all”.  Of course Ravenna couldn’t have someone taking over her title, so she had the baby killed. Once Freya learns the truth she wages war on her sister Ravenna.

As far as casting, Jessica Chastain can do no wrong, unless it’s a Scottish accent.  Other than that she was a perfect selection for Sara.  As much as I have never really been a fan of Emily Blunt, she never disappoints.  This role was no exception.  She has the ability to believably play the nurturing mother as well as the cold hearted villain. And even while she’s being terrible, you are still kind of in awe of her.  As for previously introduced characters, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron had no trouble getting back into the mindset of their past roles.  The supporting cast was entertaining enough, but nothing out of the ordinary.  The real winner of this movie, however, is the costume department.  The set costumes for these characters are amazing.  From the elaborate gowns each of the queens wear to the intricate and individualized look of each huntsman, it is quite a sight to take in.

Overall this story is much more of a stand-alone movie.  It doesn’t help to further or add anything of importance to the previous movie, so if you weren’t a fan of the first one, there’s no need to watch this one.  However, if you loved Snow White and the Huntsman, then The Huntsman: Winter’s War is a nice addition which adds a little more back story to this particular fairytale’s universe.

Rating: 6