Review: THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER'S WAR (2016) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Thursday, 14 April 2016


In this follow-up of sorts to 2012's SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN, this latest instalment tells "another story" -- as narrated by the uncredited Liam Neeson -- about the evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) turning her otherwise happy sister, Freya (Emily Blunt) into a ruthless ice queen. Since then, Freya sets up her own kingdom and trains an army of Huntsmen (and Huntswomen). When Freya finds out one of her huntsmen, Eric (Chris Hemsworth) breaks the rule for falling in love with a fellow female warrior (Jessica Chastain), she separates them by building an ice wall between them.

REVIEW: Although THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER'S WAR is largely marketed as a prequel to the 2012 movie, this follow-up is more of a prequel-cum-sequel combo. First-time feature director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, who previously responsible for visual effects and second-unit direction in SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN, knows well how to put together a visually sumptuous picture. The special effects are top notch and Colleen Atwood does a great job creating a range of breathtaking costumes that is truly a feast for the eyes.

However, most of the action scenes are a huge letdown. Similar to SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN, the action cuts too fast with herky-jerky editing that doesn't allow us to appreciate the choreography displayed on the screen.

The plot, in the meantime, which meshes FROZEN and THE LORD OF THE RINGS is thankfully devoid of the lifeless appeal seen in the first movie. Even though THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER'S WAR still moves at a sluggish pace while the "love conquers all" and "forbidden love" story elements feel cringeworthy, at least Nicolas-Troyan and his screenwriters (Evan Spiliotopoulos and Craig Mazin) manage to inject an effective dose of fun unlike the first movie's failed attempt on the similar touches. This is, of course, largely thanks to the appearances of the four bickering dwarves played by Nick Frost, Rob Brydon, Sheridan Smith and Alexandra Roach.

The star-studded cast is a mixed bag. Despite the potentially good pairing of Chris Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain, they display little chemistry for each other. Even their attempts at speaking in Scottish accents feels wobbly. Charlize Theron hams it up as usual reprising her role as Queen Ravenna, but at least her over-the-top performance is more tolerable to watch for than the first time around. Emily Blunt, who is a newcomer to the franchise, displays a suitably chilly performance as the ice queen Freya.

THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER'S WAR is narratively incoherent, but visually impressive fairytale prequel of sorts with stunning costume designs and seamless special effects.

* This review is written courtesy from UIP press screening *

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