The Huntsman: Winter's War
In Snow White and the Huntsman, the two titular fairy tale types join forces to best that wicked Queen Ravenna and her magically imbued golden mirror.
But don't you want to know how Eric became the skilled, valiant and just slightly heartbroken huntsman that he is?
OK, you may not have actually been wondering about that, but it's a story to be told … and so Hollywood will try to tell it. And since Snow White's nowhere to be found in this one, it all ties back, in a way, to the wicked Ravenna. That beautiful and deadly queen had been marrying and knocking off kings to gain riches and land for some time, of course. But it was actually her sister, Freya, who was most to be feared.
After losing her infant daughter through a terrible betrayal, Freya was left with a frozen shard of a heart, they say. And she gained icy powers strong enough to freeze the world solid.
You're suddenly thinking about Elsa and Anna, aren't you? Admit it! But don't expect some fabulous Frozen story of two loving sisters to emerge here. After Freya was betrayed, she moved to the North, created a bitterly cold kingdom of her own and began stealing away children from every village and town in the land.
She was saving them, of course! In her own mind, at least—in her own twisted, demented heart. What the Ice Queen was really doing was growing and training them up to be an army of huntsmen who would help her rule the world. These skilled warriors would attack neighboring kingdoms and bring the spoils back to her.
You may now be concluding that Ravenna's love-'em-and-kill-'em method of gaining kingdoms was simpler and less messy than her sister's. And even if you're not, I'm telling you to. But the fact is, Freya was making a point. She is absolutely cold to love, you see. And she'd rather freeze out every neighboring handsome king than look at him.
That's why she got so ticked off when her most brave and skilled huntsman, Eric, fell in love with a female huntsman named Sara. The Ice Queen would soon deal with that foolishness!
See how it's all starting to tie together? Eric and his secret love? Freya and her cold anguish? Ravenna and her magic mirror?
You're not seeing it? Turn the glass a tad to the left. No?
All right. Never mind. Let's just start over. There are these two wicked and powerful sisters ...
The real-life lessons in this dark fairy tale are sparse, but the film lightly suggests that being loving and loyal are solid attributes. And that being brave and self-sacrificial isn't so bad either.
This is a world of unexplained magic. Both Ravenna and Freya have powers that grew out of personal tragedy in their lives. And the magic mirror is a great source of mysterious might as well. Ravenna states that when she was killed (in the Snow White and the Huntsman movie), her spirit left her body and took up residence within the mirror itself. While talking of bad choices and forgiveness with Sara, Eric says that "someone else" is left to judge their actions.
Eric and Sara kiss and embrace while naked (they're seen from the shoulders up) in a hot springs and while partially clothed in the midst of having sex. The latter scene shows guy and gal stripping off tops (giving the camera a side view of Sara's breast).
Sara typically wears a leather outfit that accentuates her curves. Ravenna and Freya prefer low-cut dresses. One very buxom innkeeper shows quite a lot of cleavage.
A female dwarf tosses around winking quips about dwarven sexuality. A pair of male dwarves speak of the amount of alcohol needed to bed a female dwarf. And Sara shares a bit of sexual innuendo as well. Freya becomes pregnant and gives birth out of wedlock.
Ravenna magically kills her husband while playing a game of chess, his blood slowly seeping onto the board. Freya's child is burned to death (offscreen) in her crib. We see several scenes of slashing and impaling battle between Freya's armies and their foes. Battlefields are left littered with corpses pierced by arrows and abandoned blades. Men and dwarves are frozen solid and magically impaled with spear-like tendrils.
In up-close pummeling struggles between Eric and several groups of enemies we hear bones break. In fact, he finishes a battle with a fierce and roaring goblin by somersaulting over the beast, grabbing its horns and viciously snapping its neck. During a number of fights, both Eric and Sara are left scraped and bloodied. We see that Sara's back is covered with scars. We watch as she's stabbed from behind with an assassin's blade. Eric is shot in the chest with an arrow. Children are hit with blunt weapons, shoved about and physically tormented. Goblins get engulfed in blue flames.
Crude or Profane Language
One use each of "b--ch" and "a--." Those interjections are joined by a variety of crude English phrases, including "b-gger me," "bloody h---," "p--- off," "w-nker" and "b-llocks." God's name is misused.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Eric and his dwarf companions drink ale at an inn. A dwarf drinks booze from a flask.
Other Negative Elements
Here we have another Hollywood prequel-slash-sequel. Or perhaps an action-slash-adventure romantic fantasy prequel-slash-side-story-slash-sequel is the most accurate description. The point is that, besides all the slashing violence, The Huntsman: Winter's War isn't all that sure what it is, or what it even wants be.
The film's story sprouts out of its predecessor's Snow White (ish) roots like an accidentally dropped magic bean. It buds into several disjointed tales without really being sure of who's story it's telling. And by the time it gives blossom to an infant's horrible and grisly murder, stabbing and hacking magical battles, slavering beasties, bits of sexy seduction and a number of dwarf-sex script giggles, well, the whole proceeding feels like it would rather cuddle up to Game of Thrones than sit and talk with Once Upon a Time.
Even the moral lessons and learning opportunities that you'd typically point kids to in a fable or fairy tale have pretty much been chained up somewhere in the Ice Queen's dungeon, never to be seen onscreen.
It's not that this visually picturesque but overgrown pic is outright rotten. It's just that it's unpruned, shall we say. Like that tangled fairy tale forest most sensible adventurers steer clear of in the dark of night.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Chris Hemsworth as Eric/The Huntsman; Charlize Theron as Ravenna; Jessica Chastain as Sara; Sheridan Smith as Mrs. Bromwyn; Nick Frost as Nion; Alexandra Roach as Doreena
Cedric Nicolas-Troyan ( )
April 22, 2016
August 23, 2016