Needless Backstory – The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016)

The opposite of attention grabbing.  So after the events of Snow White and the Huntsman, everybody wanted to know: where did this Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) come from, and why does he look like Thor?  A prequel that nobody was asking for, this is the previous adventures of the Huntsman, intervening between two sisters and their struggle for power in the kingdom and trying to get the warrior girl (Jessica Chastain) at the same time.  The biggest negative effect from stockpiling all these notes for reviews and not releasing them immediately is that they have the tendency to not remain as fresh in the brain.  That’s just the nature of human memory I suppose, but even with something like The Angry Birds Movie, I still had plenty to say because it stood out.  It has been about a month and a half since I watched The Huntsman: Winter’s War, and please believe me when I tell you that I am very glad I took notes, because all of the plot points are all but removed from my memory banks.

2The visual effects were decent… I think.

The one thing that did actually leave an impression about this is how liberally this borrows from the smash hit Frozen.  It is shameless, and it doesn’t even make an effort to hide it.  I mean really, listen to this: there are two sisters feuding over a kingdom, one of which has a platinum blond braid and ice powers.  I am seriously not making any of this up, and while I haven’t taken the time to watch the following television shows, in my mind, this is what shows like Once Upon a Time or Grimm are all about.  There may not be any singing, but it just goes to show you just how few ideas that they had for this going in, and this is a prime example of milking marginal success if there ever was one.  The first Snow White and the Huntsman was okay, but it’s not like it made its budget back domestically.  In its theatrical run, this prequel only made a third of what its predecessor took in, so at the very least audiences are speaking with their dollars.

1I hope you weren’t looking forward to a Huntsman 3.

The positives I have on this are few and far between.  The visuals are decent, but we have reached a day and age that if you have a $100 million budget, that’s going to happen regardless (unless you’re Gods of Egypt).  I like how Nick Frost is actually playing a different character than the fat comedic relief character that he gets typecast as.  Charlize Theron is a pro and gives her best effort to turn nothing into something, but everybody else is just going through the motions, and you never care at a single point.  The script meanders from location to location, and nothing feels important in this world.  There is actually a major plot point where this ice queen outlaws love, which may just be the lamest story element of the year.  It’s just a very lacking production, which is understandable when you think about the fact that they tried to launch a Snow White franchise without Snow White.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016) **

– Critic for Hire


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