Winter's War is both the prequel and the sequel to "Snow White and the Huntsman" for those didn't already know. Originally billed as a prequel in the trailers it was rather surprising in that regard, but it does do a good job of winding into that first film while still continuing the series forward. This tale follows the dynamics of Queen Freya "Emily Blunt" and Ravenna (Charlize Theron) who was the evil queen of the first film. Things start off with Freya being a regular person at the side of her sister until a shocking event tears at her heart causing the frost within to be unleashed. The story then follows the Freya as she builds her kingdom and begins training a militia group called the Huntsman while being completely against love in all forms. The setup is decent enough as it gives an origin to one of the heroes from the first film while building on the existing cast with additional characters. Aside from just The Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) we also get his love interest Sara (Jessica Chastain) which is what a good chunk of story revolves around and this is where we start to see some issues. Together they had some decent chemistry, but the movie didn't seem to quite know what its audience was as these two felt focused towards the adult crowd yet much of the movie felt like it leaned towards the younger ones. That aspect followed through much of the film as it felt like it would be a darker take on the tales mashed together though it never picked one side or the other. It also had an issue with the level of predictability in what was going to happen throughout and didn't quite hit the marks I saw that it was attempting to build story wise.
Taking a look at the general acting I didn't have any issues as everyone seemed right into their roles though the combination of Freya and Ravenna was fantastic. I actually wish there had been more development between these two and their points of view as both were terrifying in their own regards whether that was when they were alone or when the two had been paired together. The group of the Huntsman were decent having a well set up background in this one and the two main huntsman leads had decent chemistry with each other though their tale was too easy to see where it was headed. The supporting cast of dwarves was really a hit or miss thing having a couple laughs though much of the time their portions weren't too funny and that also seemed to be the opinion of the theater I was in as well. As a final note on the cast I did quite like the narration that was given in small bits throughout the film by Liam Neeson as that did a good job of giving some exposition and making it feel more like a fairytale. The world itself was well done and I was mostly impressed with the visuals as it felt very magical at most places. That aside I was particularly impressed with the design of the ice fortress and the looks of the two queens as they were very distinct. There were also a good number of places that their quest took them and they all had their own unique environments which was nice. I did however find the goblin's CGI to be a bit fake looking which stood out and that whole section also felt out of place as well.
The Huntsman definitely felt average in terms of action and the film in general. It was a decent story aside from being too predictable at many points though not quite as great as the first film which I did generally enjoy. The weaving of the stories was nice as it wasn't just a prequel, but actually continued the story of the first movie quite well. The worlds within the film were great carrying the mystical feeling that should be in this type of film though I did wish that there was a direction the film would take in what its target audience was. Overall "The Huntsman" is a decent film that doesn't quite hit all the marks, yet isn't terrible to watch either with great roles from Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron that could have been dove into a bit more.
Review for The Huntsman: Winter's War at Theater with Standard Viewing
Screening Provided by NBC Universal