‘The Huntsman: Winter’s War’ Review

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Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan

Writers: Evan Spiliotopoulos and Craig Mazin

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain, Nick Frost, Rob Brydon, Sheridan Smith, Alexandra Roach, Sope Dirisu, Sam Hazeldine, and Sam Claflin.

Synopsis: As a war between rival queen sisters Ravenna and Freya escalates, Eric and fellow warrior Sara, members of the Huntsman army raised to protect Freya, try to conceal their forbidden love as they combat Ravenna’s wicked intentions.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

When Snow White and the Huntsman came out back in 2012, the film was met with a mixed – a tad more negative – reaction. The film had some interesting things going for it and had compelling characters in Eric the Huntsman and Queen Ravenna. This is saying something, considering the main character in the film was, well, Snow White. So, Universal Pictures decided to take one of the most compelling characters in the original and give him an origin story, but also give Snow White and the Huntsman a sequel without really involving the character of Snow White. Does it work? Sort of.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War starts by showing us how Eric (Hemsworth) essentially became the Huntsman along with fellow warrior Sara (Chastain). The two were taken from their homes by Freya (Blunt), the sister of Ravenna (Theron), who after losing her baby unleashed a secret power within her that gives her the power of ice. Freya’s one rule for her Huntsmen is that love is forbidden. However, Eric and Sara fall in love. When Freya finds out she takes action, which goes into spoiler territory unless you absolutely remember everything in Snow White and the Huntsman.

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The film then jumps forward seven years after those events, and now takes place after the events in Snow White and the Huntsman. Eric is now a trusted member of Snow White’s guard, although Snow White is not really in the film and is only seen from behind in a very quick seen. So when Prince William (Claflin) – in his only scene – comes to him to tell him Ravenna’s mirror has gone missing, Eric takes it upon himself, with two dwarfs in Nion (Frost) and Gryff (Brydon), to go find the mirror and take it to The Sanctuary (again, if you remember the first film, it’s the magical forest). Of course, Freya is not too far behind, and Sara joins the fight.

There are some things to really like about The Huntsman: Winter’s War. Like its predecessor, some of the visual effects are top notch and are pretty great to get into. Some of the characters are great like the new addition of Emily Blunt’s Freya, Jessica Chastain’s Sara, and the dwarfs of Rob Brydon’s Gryff, Sheridan Smith’s Mrs. Bromwyn, and the returning Nick Frost as Nion.

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Chris Hemsworth’s Eric the Huntsman has more time to breathe since he takes the lead role here. It is a bit hard to take Hemsworth’s performance as the Huntsman’s a bit seriously because sometimes I see him as a hammerless Thor, it’s not a bad thing, but it’s just the natural charm that he brings to his roles. Jessica Chastain, who is always reliable in anything she does and is reliable here too, but it takes just a tad bit of time to get use to the fact that she has an accent. The supporting cast of Frost,Brydon and Smith have unbelievable chemistry together and are one of the best parts of the film, and give some lightheartedness to the film.

Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron as the two queen sisters have some great scenes together. The problem is that they don’t get enough time together, despite what the trailers and promotional ads have you believe, and it is a shame really since they are two of the best actress working today. Also, for those hoping for a ton of screen time for Theron will be disappointed, as she disappears after the first ten minutes and doesn’t appear again until the final act. That being said, Emily Blunt holds down the fort for being the main queen, and is also a bit held back. Her story is a good one if the writers decided to delve more into it, but instead it is just left underdeveloped and underwhelming at the end of all of it.

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Moreover, like its predecessor, The Huntsman: Winter’s War doesn’t standout too much. The story will probably feel a bit formulaic to some, and it does slow down – with the expectation of an action sequence – right up until the end.  Also, the big thing really, The Huntsman: Winter’s War feels like it ignored some of the events in Snow White and the Huntsman, one big particular one that involves Eric’s past. It’s fine if they wanted to rewrite things or treat this like the first film never happened, but this particular piece was the driving force behind Eric in Snow White, that it doesn’t really make sense that the film would rewrite this.

All in all, The Huntsman: Winter’s War has a great cast and some pretty cool visual effects. However, Emily Blunt’s Queen Freya story feels underwritten and Charlize Theron doesn’t have a ton of screen time. Fans will find things to enjoy, but overall The Huntsman: Winter’s War may be the end of these characters. Which is a bit of a shame, because this series had huge potential.

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The Huntsman: Winter’s War

3.5 out of 5

April Movie Releases

Well hello there!

It’s April, and to some studios, it’s the unofficial start of the Summer Movie Season. Although, it doesn’t seem too much like the studios are pushing their huge films like previous years, but there are big films coming out before the end of the month. Let’s take a look shall we?

 

 

1st

Limited Release: Everybody Wants Some!! (Comedy – Paramount Pictures/Annapurna Pictures/Detour Filmproduction)

A spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused, director Richard Linklater tells a story of a group of college baseball players navigating their way through the freedoms and responsibilities of unsupervised adulthood. The film has a young cast of Ryan Guzman, Wyatt Russell, Blake Jenner, Juston Street, Tyler Hoechlin, Glenn Powell, Zoey Deutch, Dora Madison, Austin Amelio, Holly Jee, and Jonathan Breck. This is part of a limited release and will get wider releases in the weeks to come, so if you don’t see it on April 1st, you can catch it in the following weeks.

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Limited Release: Miles Ahead (Biography Drama)

Written, directed and starring Don Cheadle, Miles Ahead is an exploration of the life and music of legendary musician Miles Davis (Cheadle). The movie doesn’t look too bad, but with a limited release I don’t know if I’ll get around to watching it. Miles Ahead also stars Ewan McGregor, Michael Stuhlbarg, Emayatzy Corinealdi, and Keith Stanfield.

 

God’s Not Dead 2 (Drama – Pure Flix Productions)

Sequel to the popular film (among some circles) the sequel sees a high school teacher asked a question in class about Jesus. Her reasoned response lands her in deep trouble and could expel God from the public square. I never saw the first film, so I’m pretty sure I won’t see this one. God’s Not Dead 2 stars Jesse Metcalfe, Melissa Joan Hart, David A.R. White, Robin Givens, Hayley Orrantia, Maria Canals-Barrera, Pat Boone, Ernie Hudson and Ray Wise.

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Meet the Blacks (Comedy – Freestyle Releasing/Hidden Empire Film Group)

Mike Epps stars in this film that is essentially a parody/spoof of The Purge when Carl Black (Epps) moves his family to Beverly Hills to relax, only to realize the Purge is about to happen. I have to say a lot of spoof/parody movies that come out look pretty dumb and not worthwhile. However, Meet the Blacks actually looks pretty decently funny. Mike Tyson, Zulay Henao, and Charlie Murphy also star.

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8th

Expansion Release: Everybody Wants Some!!

 

Limited Release: Green Room (Horror Thriller)

A band find themselves trapped in a secluded venue after stumbling upon a horrific act of violence and are soon targets of a white power skinhead group, lead by Patrick Stewart, who want all evidence of the crime eliminated. The cast is rather impressive and the film is on a few people’s watch list, and I can see why, I mean, when is the last time we’ve seen Patrick Stewart as a bad guy? Green Room stars Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Anton Yelchin, Mark Webber, Joe Cole, Callum Turner and Eric Edelstein.

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Limited Release: Demolition (Comedy Drama – Fox Searchlight Pictures/Black Label Media/Sidney Kimmel Entertainment/Right of Way Films/Mr. Mudd)

David, a successful investment banker (Jake Gyllenhaal), struggles after losing his wife in a tragic car crash. Despite pressure from his father-in-law (Chris Cooper), to pull his life together, Davis doesn’t and starts a complaint letter to a vending machine company that actually turns into a series of letters revealing personal admissions. The letter actually make it to customer service rep, Karen (Naomi Watts) who is going through her own burden, the two form an unlikely connection. The two, along with Karen’s son (Judah Lewis), Davis starts to rebuild his life by starting a demolition his home.  The film looks pretty great so I’m looking forward to this.

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Hardcore Henry (Action – STX Entertainment/Versus Pictures/Bazelevs Production)

Based on the music video “Bad Motherfucker” by llya Naishuller, Naishuller will bring a feature0lenght adaptation that will be shot entirely like a first-person shooter and was shot with a GoPro. The film follows Henry, a newly resurrected cyborg who must save his wife/creator (Haley Bennett) from AKAN, a psychotic tyrant with telekinetic powers, and his army of mercenaries. Fighting alongside Henry is Jimmy (Sharlto Copley) who is Henry’s only hope to make it through the day in Moscow, Russia. The film looks crazy, which is probably the best way to describe it. I don’t know how many will be down to a watch an entire movie shot like a video game, but if it good, then why not right?

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Before I Wake (Horror – Relativity Media/Demarest Films/Intrepid Pictures/MICA Entertainment)

This was supposed to come out last year – I even wrote about it – but when Relativity Media went into bankruptcy, this and many of their films were pulled from the schedule, but now they are back in good(?) shape and their films are coming out. Although I still haven’t seen anything new come out for this, it’s still being billed to come out this week. If it doesn’t, I don’t know when it will come out now. Anyway, the film follows a couple (Thomas Jane and Kate Bosworth) who adopt an orphaned child (Jacob Tremblay) whose dreams – and nightmares – manifest physically as he sleeps. The film is directed by Mike Flanagan, who directed Oculus, which I really enjoyed, and it looks like he’s going to make this as creepy as his previous films, so I can’t wait to watch this. Annabeth Gish, Scottie Thompson and Dash Mihok also star.

 

The Boss (Comedy – Universal Pictures/On the Day)

Michelle Darnell (Melissa McCarthy), a titan of the industry is sent to prison after she’s caught for insider trading. When she gets out, she tries to rebrand herself as America’s sweetheart to the country and to her former employees by helping one of her former employee’s (Kristen Bell) daughter sell girl scout cookies. The film looks okay, I haven’t seen every McCarthy comedy, but it looks like more of the same from the previous films. The film co-written (McCarthy co-wrote it as well) and directed by McCarthy’s husband, Ben Falcone, who also directed her in Tammy, which may not be a good sign. The Boss also stars Peter Dinklage, Kristen Schaal, Cecily Strong, Ella Anderson, Parker Young, Kathy Bates, and Margo Martindale.

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15th

Expansion/Wide Release: Green Room

Final Expansion: Everybody Wants Some!!

 

Limited Release: Sing Street (Musical Comedy)

A boy growing up in Dublin during the 1980s escapes his strained family by starting a band and moving to London. The film looks pretty damn funny and looks like a great addition to the coming-of-age genre. There looks to be a great unknown young cast with some bigger names in supporting roles like Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy and Jack Reynor.

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Limited Release: Colonia (Thriller)

Based on true events, Lena (Emma Watson) is on the search for her kidnapped boyfriend Daniel (Daniel Bruhl), who being held hostage by the infamous Colonia Dignidad run by Paul Schafer (Michael Nyqvist), a place no one has ever escaped from during Pinochet’s reign in 1973.

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Criminal (Action Drama – Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment/Millennium Films/BenderSpink/Campbell Grobman Films)

The memories and skills of a deceased CIA agent are implanted into an unpredictable and dangerous convict. The film may not sound like much but the cast is freaking huge. Of course, we don’t know how much screen time these people will have, but still. Criminal stars Ryan Reynolds, Alice Eve, Gal Gadot, Michael Pitt, Jordi Molla, Amaury Nolasco, Antje Traue, Scott Adkins, Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, and Tommy Lee Jones

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Barbershop: The Next Cut (Comedy – New Line Cinema/MGM/Cube Vision)

It’s been more than ten years since the last Barbershop movie (which I don’t remember watching) but that doesn’t seem to stop Ice Cube and Malcolm D. Lee from doing another film. The film has Calvin (Cube) and his crew now working with a beauty salon making the all man’s barber shop now a co-ed place. The film will also tackle some issues like gun violence and doing great community work (at least that’s what I got from the trailer). I don’t know if I’ll watch this, but this will have its audience. The Next Cut also stars Common, Regina Hall, Anthony Anderson, Troy Garity, Eve, Cedric the Entertainer, Sean Patrick Thomas, Dean Cole, and Nicki Minaj.

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The Jungle Book (Fantasy Adventure – Walt Disney Pictures/Moving Pictures Company)

A new approach to the classic story by Rudyard Kipling about an orphan boy named Mowgli (Neel Sethi), who is raised in the jungle with the help of a pack of wolves, a bear and a black panther. The film will be a combination live-action, motion capture and photorealism and the trailers have been nothing but great so far, so I can’t wait to see how this turns out. The motion-capture and voice cast includes Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Idris Elba, Christopher Walken, Giancarlo Esposito, Emjay Anthony, Ralph Ineson, Jamie Dornan, Lupita Nyong’o and Ben Kingsley.

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22nd

Limited Release: A Hologram for the King (Drama)

A failed American businessman (Tom Hanks) looks to recoup his losses by traveling to Saudi Arabia and selling his idea to a wealthy monarch. The film also stars Ben Whishaw, Sarita Choudhury, Tracey Fairaway, Dhaffer L’Abidine, Jay Abdo and Tom Skerritt.

 

Elvis & Nixon (Comedy – Bleecker Street Media/Amazon Studios)

Follows the untold true story behind Elvis (Michael Shannon) and President Nixon (Kevin Spacey), resulting in the moment that has been immortalized in the most requested photograph in the National Archives. Should be interesting to see how this plays out with the rest of the cast that includes Alex Pettyfer, Johnny Knoxville, Evan Peters, Tate Donovan and Colin Hanks.

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The Huntsman Winter’s War (Fantasy Action Adventure – Universal Pictures/Roth Films)

A prequel (and seems like a sequel too) to Snow White and the Huntsman focus on Eric the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) has his past catches up to him. The Huntsman Winter’s War sees Queen Freya (Emily Blunt) bringing back her sister Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) from the dead to conquer the land. This leads Eric to find Sara (Jessica Chastain) – a former love – and a band of warriors to stop them. The film looks a hell of a lot better than I thought it would and I’m glad that they focusing on Eric this time. Winter’s War also stars Sam Claflin, Colin Morgan, Sophie Cookson, Sheridan Smith, Alexandra Roach, and Nick Frost.

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29th

Limited Release: A Beautiful Planet (Documentary)

An exploration of Earth and beyond as seen from outer space.

 

Mother’s Day (Comedy – Open Road Films/PalmStar Media/Gulfstream Pictures/Rice Films)

Garry Marshall is back at it. The man behind intertwining story films like Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve (and of course other films) is back and this time tackling stories around Mother’s Day. Of course, the film has a huge cast that includes Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Kate Hudson, Jason Sudeikis, Timothy Olyphant, Britt Robertson, Sarah Chalke, Shay Mitchell, Christine Lakin, Jon Lovitz and Margo Martindale.

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Ratchet & Clank (Animation – Focus Features/Gramercy Pictures/Sony Computer Entertainment/Insomniac Games/Rainmaker Entertainment/Blockade Entertainment/CNHK Media)

Based on the popular video game series, Ratchet and Clank see the two unlikely heroes as they struggle to stop an alien race lead by Chairman Drek from destroying every planet in their galaxy. The two then join forces with a team of colorful heroes called The Galactic Rangers in order to stop them. I’ve only played one game in the series, but the trailers aren’t really helping the film at all for me. The voice cast includes James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, Jim Ward, Sylvester Stallone, Rosario Dawson, Belle Thorne, John Goodman and Paul Giamatti.

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Keanu (Action Comedy – Warner Bros./Principato-Young Entertainment)

Jordan Peele co-wrote this film that follows friends who hatch a plot to get back a stolen cat by posing as drug dealers for a street gang. The film is being labeled as an action comedy and the premise sounds a bit fun, so let hope the execution pans out. Keanu stars Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Will Forte, Nia Long, Jason Mitchell, Method Man, and Rob Huebel.

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What are you looking forward to?