The Huntsman: Winter's War review: bad, but weirdly entertaining
Mirror, mirror, on the wall - did anyone ask for this sequel at all?
Nope. Not me.
Well, even though none of us were really begging for it and even though the movie was made just to make money for the studios (2012's Snow White and the Huntsman took home $400 million), there's something weirdly entertaining about it.
I walked into it looking for reasons to hate it, but the movie so blandly entertaining that you end up just going with the flow of it (or lack thereof).
This one starts years before the first and offers us a glimpse of The Huntsman's (Chris Hemsworth) origin.
Basically: Once upon a time the evil queen from the first movie, Ravenna (Charlize Theron) ruled alongside her sister, Freya (Emily Blunt). But when Freya's baby is killed in a mystery fire, she fulfills the legacy of all women in her family and manifests super powers. Basically, she turns into Elsa from Frozen.
With her heart as cold as her hands, Freya leaves to start her own kingdom up north, and she decides to fill the baby hole in her life by kidnapping local children and training them up as her army, which she calls her Huntsmen because that's the name Hemsworth had in the first movie.
Hemsworth's Eric is the best of her brigade, rivalled only by Sara (Jessica Chastain). Despite the prohibition on procreation, Eric and Sara fall for one another, consummate their lust, and secretly marry, all within the space of a single hot tub scene.
Freya quickly discovers the couple and the consequences follow. She casts out Eric and basically prompts the events of Snow White and the Huntsman. After that the rest of the movie, set 7 years later, follows Eric and the one dwarf from the first film who could be convinced to return (Nick Frost).
A few other dwarves join in, and then Sara jumps back into the picture and they go off to track down Ravenna's Magic Mirror.
Hemsworth, basically playing Thor with a slightly different accent (Scottish) and a slightly different weapon (an axe), oozes the same charming overconfidence that became his bread and butter as the God of Thunder. And he has solidly combative chemistry with Chastain, who looks like she's having a blast playing a badass. The same goes for Theron; her role is frustratingly small, but she gives 110% to every scene
Theron's presence alone makes the big action climax a campy hoot, and it's clear the actors are having fun.
It looks okay too (the director, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, worked on the visual effects for the first Huntsman), if overly familiar from a hundred other fantasy epics and live-action fairy tales.
The costumes are mind-bogglingly beautiful, though - the work of the great Colleen Atwood, 11-time Oscar nominee and three-time winner (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha and Alice in Wonderland) who also designed the clothes for the original Huntsman.
It isn't the worst movie in the world, but it's not great either. It just simply exists.