The Huntsman: Winter’s War

Huntsman

Beyond special effects, there’s barely anything here.
★½
Movie Review #1,086

huntsman_ver7

Distributed by Universal Pictures.  Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy.  Running time: 1 hour, 54 minutes.  Rated PG-13 for fantasy action violence and some sensuality.  Released April 22, 2016.  Directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan.  Produced by Joe Roth.  Written by Evan Spiliotopoulos and Craig Main, from the characters by Evan Daugherty.  Starring Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Jessica Chastain, Emily Blunt, Nick Frost, Rob Brydon, Sope Dirisu, Sam Claflin, Sophie Cookson, Conrad Khan, Niamh Walter, Nana Agyeman-Bediako, Amelia Crouch, and Fred Tatasciore.

Eric (Chris Hemsworth) is the titular huntsman in this film. The story is very basic. He and a woman named Sara (Jessica Chastain) have been hired as warriors under Queen Freya (Emily Blunt), whose sister Ravenna (Charlize Theron) will later inherit the throne. However, this is a forbidden romance. They try desperately to keep everything a secret, up until Freya discovers their secret. At that point, it’s them against the Queen and her army.

It’s no surprise to me that the guy who did the visual effects for “Snow White and the Huntsman” ended up directing the prequel/sequel. (“The Huntsman” acts as both.)  That’s nothing against the visuals in either film.  The visuals in “Snow White” were stunning enough to earn an Oscar nomination, and those in “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” are possibly even more so.  But the latter is clearly Cedric Nicolas-Troyan’s first time sitting in the director’s chair.  His vision for “The Huntsman” is weak, if discernible at all.

It seems that the only thing there really is to talk about in this film is the special effects, because frankly, without the visuals in this film, there really is no movie at all.  Aside from a devoted performance by Charlize Theron (and can we really expect anything else from her?), there’s really nothing of merit to “The Huntsman”.  The script alone speaks volumes about the film.  It’s written by Evan Spiliotopoulos, whose résumé as a screenwriter is limited to direct-to-video Disney movies; and Craig Mazin, whose range goes from “Scary Movie 3” to “The Hangover Part III”.  I guess the few moments of humor throughout the movie kept me awake.

It’s unfortunate that “The Huntsman” only marginally exceeds its precursor.  The film is not good by any means, but it’s at the very least tolerable, something which “Snow White” wasn’t.  Again, it’s difficult to end on any note that doesn’t describe its special effects.  They’re fantastic, but they’re essentially all that’s here.  With “Snow White”, at least I could dig into the film.  With “The Huntsman”, I can’t dig in because it’s practically impossible for me to touch it.  All there is here is thin air.

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