.THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR (Universal)
Dir. Cedric Nicolas Troyan, Script. Craig Mazin, Evan Spiliotopoulos
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain
Plot: The franchise reimaging Snow White continues, forgetting to bring Snow White along.
Hallelujah and hooray, for I am about to go on one of my long anticipated rants over Universal’s new tent-pole movie, which succeeds in being as hollow as a model’s Instagram page and as instantly forgettable. The $115m sequel to 2012’s Snow White and The Huntsman, a movie that absolutely nobody wanted or needed a continuation of, suffers badly from its lack of Kristen Stewart (something I genuinely never thought I’d say), a screenplay that most resembles a diuretic, and a normally talented cast which are completely and utterly useless, merely cashing their pay-checks and subsequently lying through their teeth about the film’s quality in interviews.
The rabbit hole (or I guess the goblin hole; yes, there are goblins because FANTASY) begins with the aforementioned tapestry of tosh, seemingly woven by a 12-year-old who liked Frozen but has a crush on the cute, edgy boy with the fringe that doesn’t have a clue who they are, so they wrote a Frozen fanfiction with an added dose of hormones and stifled, emotional turmoil, to reflect the fact that ‘life is unfair’ – or, to summarise, it’s a bit rubbish. The Huntsman: Winter’s War’s main plot revolves around a princess whose questionable relationship with her sister leads to a horrific moment that leads to her running from her duties and forging a new kingdom backed by their magical ability to form and manipulate ice. But as Elsa is copyrighted by Disney, her name is Freya, and she is played by the usually stellar Emily Blunt, whose main role is to deliver speeches about the evil of love with all the charisma and skill of an Oakfurnitureland.com advert.
In fact, I’m going to take that one step further: The Huntsman: Who Wanted This? Is the most expensive, star-studded Oakfurnitureland.com advert of all time, with unnecessary goblins, dwarves and moderately believable CGI. Certainly, the directorial flair of Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, making his feature film debut after being a visual effects supervisor on the original film, is befitting of an Oakfurnitureland.com advert (sidenote: If I have a bet on when this is posted about trying to force as many mentions of Oakfurnitureland.com in a movie review, then I just won it). There’s nothing really happening camera-wise, with everything feeling static, and the action scenes are pretty dull also. At least the visual effects of which Troyan specialises in are the strongest visual aspects, so I can tell him ‘Don’t quit your day job’ because he doesn’t seem too bad at it.
But easily the most disappointing aspect is what the film does with the cast, and what they do to the film in return. The film is headlined by a returning Chris Hemsworth as the nameless Huntsman, who really does nothing to get you to care about him or his plight. He also, for some unknown reason seeing as the film takes place in a fictional kingdom, butchers a Scottish accent. But if Hemsworth’s attempt is merely offensively bad, Jessica Chastain’s attempt at a Scottish accent is inciting-another-independence-referendum bad. She opens her mouth ten minutes in – it reminded me of this, and I laughed. Hard. Chastain does sell her character well enough, but there’s no meat for her to work with whatsoever. And it’s not only the stars that are wasted – Nick Frost and Rob Brydon play a pair of comic relief dwarves, who are not comical, and when the film cuts away from them you will be relieved. If that’s not enough to sell you, Sam Claflin (who was in the original movie, but I forgot about that) turns up for one scene to shit out some exposition on a horse!
The film isn’t a total loss; Charlize Theron, the returning antagonist from the original film, is so over-the-top that it’s kind of a joy to watch (and if you star in this movie, you can be allowed a pass for a movie or two). She’s definitely the only big name actor that can escape unscathed from this mess. Minor technical babble: the editing is too quick at times, the cinematography’s pretty uninspiring, and the song written for the film’s end credits is forgotten just as quickly as the movie its written for, and it matches it for dreariness. To cut this all short, The Huntsman: Winter’s War just doesn’t have anything to hook you in. I watched the movie trying to find a reason for its existence and my search proved fruitless – nobody really wanted a sequel, and I can’t think of anyone who’s going to want this at all. To retain some degree of professional-ness, I wouldn’t recommend this as a movie to run to the cinema and see. To put it lightly.
BEST WATCHED: Best not, to be honest.
Hemsworth can next be seen in Sony’s female Ghostbusters remake, and a few more appearances and Thor seem highly likely as the MCU continues to expand. Charlize Theron will be competing for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, starring in Sean Penn’s The Last Face (one of 20 competing films, which you can see a list of here), and she’s also recently been cast as a villain in Fast & Furious 8. Emily Blunt will be starring in the film adaptation of The Girl On the Train, and has been announced to play Mary Poppins in a Disney remake. Jessica Chastain is next expected to appear in Miss Sloane, a period drama slated for 2017.