Movie Reviews

Hemsworth it? (The Huntsman: Winter’s War Review)

Betrayed by her evil sister Ravenna (Charlize Theron), heartbroken Freya (Emily Blunt) retreats to a northern kingdom to raise an army of huntsmen as her protectors. Gifted with the ability to freeze her enemies in ice, Freya teaches her young soldiers to never fall in love. When Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and fellow warrior Sara (Jessica Chastain) defy this rule, the angry queen does whatever she can to stop them. As war between the siblings escalates, Eric and Sara unite with Freya to end Ravenna’s wicked reign.

If you would like to read my review of the first film, Snow White and the Huntsman, click here. After watching the first film, I’m not really sure why this one exists. The first film wasn’t exactly a critical or box office success so I guess they might have thought that if they just paraded Chris Hemsworth on screen (he would at least be an upgrade over Kristen Stewart) for 2 hours, they would make money. But as his last few films have shown (at least the non-Marvel ones), that alone has not been quite enough. As far as this film goes, we will see.

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The story here is of a pair of evil sisters, Ravenna (Theron) and Freya (Blunt). After being betrayed by Ravenna, Freya retreats to a northern kingdom to raise an army of huntsmen as her protectors. Now with the ability to freeze anyone in ice, Freya teaches young soldiers to never fall in love. When warriors Eric (Hemsworth) and Sara (Chastain) fall in love, the angry queen does whatever she can to try to stop them.

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The trailers for this made me think this was going to be a prequel to the previous film because of the whole story that came before thing but without giving anything away, this was the case for maybe the first quarter/fifth of the film. I thought they were just trying to distance themselves from the whole travesty that was the previous film. The events from that film were mentioned briefly at the beginning and continued offscreen so there was no Kristen Stewart whatsoever.

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So Hemsworth is back here, of course, weird accent and all but here he is joined by a love interest in Chastain who has an even weirder accent. Ever since the first film, I’ve always wondered why they would have Scottish/Irish accents because they never seemed to fit with the rest of the world. Like I said before, this is Hemsworth’s film now. While I thought that there wasn’t much to his character in the previous film, this new film did not offer much more. He was still kind of compelling to watch but none of the smiling, smirking, or wittiness is going to change that. He’s done more or less the same in other, better films.

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He and Chastain’s Sara spend a lot of time together here. At first I was surprised to hear that Chastain was going to be in this film since I would not normally associate her with this type of film. It’s not that she’s a bad actress (I’m actually a fan of her) but I just didn’t think she worked here. I will say that she did handle herself with all the physical stuff associated with the role but I just can’t forgive the bad, cringe-worthy accent and the fact that she was just wrong here. I just didn’t find that she had any chemistry with Hemsworth.

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I found the story here to be a lot more exciting here than the previous film, primarily due to the lack of Stewart. The plot here is better than the previous film but still not overly original. There are still holes here but were not as frustrating here. It was nice to see some backstory with Ravenna and Freya but we didn’t get as much as I would have liked. The rest of the film, I found to be rather predictable but still kind of interesting. Instead of focusing on the sister relationship, it chose to focus on Eric and Sara and their quest to find Ravenna’s mirror for Snow White (still absent) before Freya. Because Eric and Sara were very serious yet dull characters, they added a pair of dwarves (Nick Frost and Rob Brydon) to join them for comic relief but most of their jokes for me were flat.

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While the trailers hint a great role for Theron’s Ravenna, she plays more of a supporting role to Blunt’s Freya who is the film’s main villain. Blunt, who is an upgrade over Theron, was good here. She managed to be menacing while still having a vulnerable side. The argument could be made that she was a little too restrained here but I didn’t mind. I found she balanced out Theron’s over-acting (more so here than in the previous film) as Ravenna.

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Overall, while this film is a slight improvement over the previous film story-wise, the previous film’s mediocrity still remains.

Score: 5.5/10

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