Thor v. Furiosa from Mad Max. That matchup gives Batman v. Superman a run for its money. In theory, anyway.
The Huntsman: Winter’s War tells of the Huntsman’s origin, fighting for one murdering queen against another and finding love from a fellow warrior. Is it a glorious battle or should it be hunted down and destroyed? Well, let’s take a look at the trailer and find out.
So who stars in this movie? Chris Hemsworth aka Thor of The Avengers plays the titular Huntsman. His love interest Sara is Jessica Chastain of Interstellar. And the two sister queens and rivals Ravenna and Freya are played by Mad Max‘s Charlize Theron and Edge of Tomorrow‘s Emily Blunt respectively.
Novice director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan helms this picture. Before this, he worked in visual effects, and one of his works includes this film’s predecessor, Snow White and the Huntsman. Chances are good, then, that this movie will focus primarily on the effects and visuals. Whether that’s to the detriment of story and character remains to be seen.
The trailer opens with a training/growing up montage of the Huntsman and Sara. Through it all, Freya tells them they will become “my elite; my Huntsmen.” Uh, Freya, you realize a huntsman is someone who hunts for food and not a warrior, right? Even if you’re going for the symbolism of your sister being an animal, you’re stretching for that one. The narrator tells us, “If it’s the Snow White tale you’re looking for, discover the story that came before.” That’s like saying, “Oh, you wanted to hear about Snow White? Too bad, we’re telling you this tale instead.” Don’t I feel appreciated as an audience member.
Queen Ravenna asks the mirror the classic “who’s the fairest” question, and the mirror melts into a man under a gold sheet to tell her that she’s it for now, but her sister’s baby will grow up even more beautiful. But if anything bad happens to the kid, Freya’s secret power will be unleashed. So naturally, Ravenna does the smart thing and pushes her vanity down so her sister doesn’t become a revenge-obsessed sorceress. Just kidding, she kills the kid, and in her grief, Freya lets her ice powers loose and casts an eternal winter on the kingdom. This is a weird remake of Frozen.
Not content with being beautiful, Ravenna decides she wants to use the mirror’s magic to take over the world, because what villain doesn’t want world domination? We see her armies spreading across the land, being generally mean to people, and the Huntsman decides it’s time to destroy the mirror. Considering the role it plays in the previous film, I’m guessing that doesn’t go well. But Sara says they’ll do it together, firing an arrow because all movie girls are into archery since The Hunger Games.
“This is what I trained you for,” Freya tells our heroes. Well, okay, this is what I had people train you for, but what’s the point of being a queen if you can’t get other people to do your work for you? The Huntsman fights Ravenna, who’s not looking so fairest of all with black slime oozing out of her mouth, and Sara during a training session. A couple of dwarves ask the Huntsman, “Have you got a plan?” “Aye,” he tells them. “Is it any good?” they ask. “No.” Well, you’ve got to admire his honesty. Less so his tendency to leap off cliffs onto castle rooftops and hope for the best. “This is the worst plan ever,” he laughs.
Ravenna uses mirror magic to grow evil black tentacles, the Huntsman puts together a team of dwarves, and Freya rides in on her white bear/wolf/unspecified magical creature, declaring, “The game’s not finished.” And it won’t be until someone reaches Jumanji. “I am stronger than all of you, little sister,” Ravenna tells her. “Shall we find out?” Freya asks. Pushup contest, now! She hurls her ice, weird black and gold mirror creatures attack the Huntsman, and he and Sara take off their clothes, because the trailer needs its one second sex scene, doggone it!
Ravenna lifts Sara into the air and says, “Kneel before me, and then I’ll tear your heart out.” First, it’s going to be very hard to kneel when her feet don’t even touch the ground. Second, why would she kneel when her incentive is to get her heart torn out? Ravenna and Freya go full sorceress standoff, the Huntsman punches an ice wall, and Ravenna attacks an army with her Slenderman tentacles. “Are you ready, Huntsman?” she asks, oozing black goo all over the place. “Aye,” he answers before charging into combat to end the trailer. Man of few words there, isn’t he?
So based on the trailer, do I recommend the movie? Not really, no. It’s visually interesting and it has some great actors in it, but it feels effects-heavy and story-light. Will the movie explain why Ravenna wants to rule the world or why the Huntsman and Sara are in love or what makes them characters we should root for? Will it delve into the relationships between the two sisters? It might, but that’s not the sense I’m getting from the trailer. I appreciate the touch of humor, though, so it’s not all bad. If you’re looking for a cool-looking action movie and nothing else, this is probably the one for you. As for me, I’ll probably be skipping this one.
Maybe I can find a magic mirror to point me to the fairest movie of all and watch that instead.
The Huntsman: Winter’s War is owned by Universal Studios.