The Huntsman: Winter’s War – The Fairytales Are Back

Release Date: April 22, 2016

Running time: 2h 3m

Rated: PG-13

Grade: B+

Chris Hemsworth as The Huntsman / Eric

Charlize Theron as Ravenna

Jessica Chastain as Sara

Emily Blunt as Queen Freya

Nick Frost as Nion

Rob Brydon as Gryff

Sheridan Smith as Bromwyn

Alexandra Roach as Doreena

Sope Dirisu as Tull

Directed by: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan


When one of the most powerful relics in fairytale history goes missing the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) is called to retrieve it before the Ice Queen Freya (Emily Blunt), finds it first. The storyteller (voiced by Liam Neeson) begins in the past. He weaves the tale of two sisters that carry a magical bloodline. Ravenna (Charlize Theron), the sister that would become the treacherous queen that wanted to be the fairest of them all. And her sister, Freya, who once believed in love but because of the death of her daughter renounced the very idea of it. Freya’s great loss awakened a sleeping power in her and made her heart the coldest in all the land. To fill the void in her heart she made her way to the far north. There she built a fortress of ice and amassed an army composed of children that were forced in to becoming her “huntsmen.” One of the best huntsmen from Freya’s army was the young Eric. As time passed he grew up into a young man but he also committed the one sin that in Freya’s queendom would not be forgiven, he fell in love. The love that he and fellow huntsman Sara shared was the breaking point of Freya’s anger. For this he was cast out of Freya’s realm. Which lead him to the events in “Snow White and the Huntsman.” It is now, seven years later and the Huntsman is visited by King William of Tabor where he tells of Queen Ravenna’s missing mirror that has to be destroyed before her sister Queen Freya gains its power. The reluctant Huntsman is joined by the dwarves Nion (Nick Frost), Gryff (Rob Brydon), Bromwyn (Sheridan Smith) and Doreena (Alexandra Roach) for his adventure. A journey that will take him to the far reaches of the frozen north.

Love comes in all shapes, sizes and forms. In this story, love is the main character. The familial devotion of two sisters, the adoration of a mother for her daughter, the romance between Eric and Sara, the simple puppy love between Nion and Doreena, the love of Ravenna for her own beauty. Even the brotherly love of Tull (Sope Dirisu) for his huntsman family that made him stay his hand. Love makes for one incredible motivation and drives this movie’s spinning wheel. Several plot twists as well as agendas were threaded into this tale. Between point A to point B the witty sarcasm bridged the action scenes especially the sharp tongued dwarf Bromwyn. The time lapse graphics in this motion picture were well placed and the striking visuals pushed the story forward. In the land of fairies called “Sanctuary” there was a snake covered in flowers that seemed to have slithered right off of the corner page from a book of fairytales. There were little spirited fairies curiously flying above the heroes while a gentle tortoise covered in grass slowly walking by in the background. These strange and beautiful elements were in the last movie but this time they are starkly detailed. The change of the young Eric to the Huntsman we know was a really smooth transition. The exhibition of magical powers in the film’s final moments brought a hush to the watching audience. The fight scenes were well choreographed. And as I watched I wondered how was the Huntsman was going to win against so many impossible odds.

In my opinion there were a great deal of “honest” situations where the characters would express their actual feelings. At one point Eric while attempting to sneak into Freya’s ice palace is laying on his back after an all too close failure of “roof-parkour.” As he reflects on his near fatal jump he laughs stating :”This is the worst plan ever.” That frame of cinema captured words that every brave risk taker has thought of at one point in time but don’t often express. The script is covered in moments like that. Actual words from a fairytale with real responses from the stress laden characters. This is part of the reason why I liked this movie. Seeing magical queens battle for supremacy is already a winner. Add to that altruistic underdogs that want to do the right thing while pitted against a dosage of digital demons and I am all for it. I thought this was going to be a magical history lesson about the Huntsman but that was just only to inform us of past events. Although Snow White (Kristen Stewart) was not one of the main characters this time around she was mentioned.

This is a fairytale, something found in a tall white book with gold writing on the cover opened up just before bedtime. This movie is an extension of the original film taking us to next chapter of that tall white book. I prefer to think that many of the myths from the past were like this. Given larger than life attributes thanks to the gestures of the storyteller by a camp fire. Now thanks to producer Joe Roth (Maleficent/Alice in Wonderland) and the director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan (Maleficent/ Snow White and the Huntsman) this old fable has a special glow with sparkling effects. It could be argued this is “Frozen” for adults or the “Game of Thrones” for young teens, I’d like to believe it is a legend embedded in love with twists of fate and conflict appearing just as the main characters get comfortable with their destinies. I’d like to see more films like this that bring the fairytales back.

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If it’s a fairy tale that you’re hoping for, prepare yourself for so much more.

Long before the evil sorceress Ravenna is defeated by Snow White, Ravenna lived with her sister Freya. She often scolded Freya for being weak and warned her that her lover, the Duke of Blackwood, was promised to another. The pregnant Freya was blinded by love and continued to have faith that her lover would cast aside his betrothed to be with her. After Freya’s beautiful baby girl was born instead of fulfilling their plan of elopement, the Duke murders their child. As a result, Freya’s hidden powers emerge just as the mirror foretold. Freya decides that if she cannot raise a child then she will raise an army and moves deep into the north to encase her heart in ice and power while Ravenna continues to conquer kingdoms by devouring kings. The army that she raises is comprised of children that she has stolen from their parents. In exchange for her guidance, she demands that the children never feel the pain of love. Two of her warriors, Eric and Sara, train side by side for many years and fall in love. The wrath of Freya causes each of them to harden their hearts. After Ravenna’s defeat by Snow White, the mirror nearly drives Snow White mad so she orders that it be destroyed. The mirror becomes missing and King William of Tabor asks Eric for help. Eric complies because he knows that he must find the mirror before Freya does or else there will be no end to her icy powers. When the mirror releases its evil captive and the war begins.

The mirror’s power is the ultimate prize in a war fought by two mighty sides.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War takes us to a far away land where magic exists. The trailer intrigues its potential audiences with the premise that this is a sequel. Instead, the movie is a wrap around story of the 2012 Snow White and the Huntman. This film’s story retains characters from the Brothers Grimm tales of Snow White but also seems to be inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s acclaimed The Snow Queen. With Kristen Stewart out of the picture, Chris Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain dominate the majority of the scenes. In congruence with the story, Charlize Theron’s role also wraps around in this story allowing Emily Blunt to emerge with her chilling performance as the Ice Queen. The most memorable scenes include the witty banter of the dwarves who serve as the film’s comic relief. Like the first installment, the special effects, cinematography, and costume design rival the premium casting which may be attributed to the director’s background in the visual effects department. In conclusion, the enchantment that we have with the Huntsman tales may or may not be over with a most satisfying ending with a hint of more to come. Since love is worth fighting for, fight your way into the theater to enjoy this one!~Movie Buffette


In his directorial debut, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan creates a stunning and beautiful fantasy adventure. With an all-star cast at his disposal, the former visual effects supervisor of Snow White and the Huntsman provides the moviegoer with an entertaining film. I think he does an amazing job with a budget that is $55 million less than Rupert Sanders had for Snow White and the Huntsman. The special effects in The Huntsman: Winter’s War were just as good or better than the film four years ago. This film has excellent on-screen chemistry between Jessica Chastain and Chris Hemsworth. I would love to see them onscreen again. Academy Award Winner Collen Atwood works her magic again with costume design. Although the story meanders a bit and is slow at times, overall I felt the team fulfilled their mission to produce a prequel/sequel that is visually appealing with just enough of a plot line to keep the audience engaged. The film was lighter in tone than the first film. The audience broke out in laughter during some of the dialogue with the dwarves. I recommend The Huntsman: Winters War if you enjoy a good old-fashioned love story, tales from the Brothers Grim or period pieces with splendid costumes, landscapes and set designs. ~ A.S. McCleod


About Perry Boyd