I feel like I ought to begin this article with a full disclaimer. Listen. I saw Snow White and the Huntsman when it came out in 2012 and found it perfectly adequate, if entirely forgettable entertainment. Did it need a sequel? It did not. And yet, somehow, a sequel was made, and four years later here we are. Now, when I saw that this movie was soon to hit theaters, I did not immediately think to myself, “Oh, gotta go see that.” But when I saw that it starred Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, AND Jessica Chastain. Well. Listen, man, I’m not made of stone. You put that many pretty people in a movie together and I’m just gonna cave. Blunt and Chastain are two of my favorite actresses. What the hell was I supposed to do? I didn’t watch a single trailer for this movie. I just went.
The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016)
The Plot: Uh… so much happens in this movie apropos of nothing that I can’t tell where it would make the most sense to start summarizing its plot. Maybe I just shouldn’t this time? Wow, my plot summaries have been really lack-luster lately. Sorry.
I think the reason why I had such a hard time with a plot summary in this case has to do with the, well, the lack of plot. I think the production process for this movie followed a pattern of, “Hey, what if we did this?” and “Sure!” For example, “Hey, what if we made a sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman?” “Sure!” “Hey, what if it was a prequel instead?” “Sure!” “Hey, what if the first half hour was a prequel and then we suddenly jump ahead and the rest of the movie is a sequel?” “Sure! Sure? Yeah, sure!” “Hey, what if our pre-sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman didn’t feature Snow White and just focused on Chris Hemsworth instead?” “Sure!” “What if we blew our entire budget on an all-star cast of A-list Hollywood celebrities for some reason?” “Sure!” “What if we got Liam Neeson to do a voiceover narration because that’s the only way I can think of to get ALL THIS EXPOSITION out of the way?” “Sure! Great!”
You get the idea?
As I sat in the theater, I heard all these questions; I saw them manifest up on the screen, and all I could think to myself was, “Yeah, sure,” with an accepting sort of shrug/nod combination. That’s all there was left for me to do: to just kind of accept what was happening. I couldn’t tell if I was liking it, if I was disliking it, if my eye-rolls were scathing or amused, if I was supposed to laugh when I did or when I didn’t, if I was supposed to be simultaneously attracted to all of the principle characters, or what. Nah, I just had no idea what to do with myself, so in the end I did the only thing I could do: I sat back and watched the movie.
In the end I… think… I enjoyed it (?). Yeah. I mean, it was not a good movie by any stretch, but it had good fight choreography and neat costumes and it did make me laugh several times, unexpectedly. Hemsworth spends much of the movie travelling around with two dwarfs played by Nick Frost and Rob Brydon, and the three of them have such marvelous chemistry. Have you ever noticed that about Chris Hemsworth? He’s always cast in these hunky romantic roles. Like in Thor: The Dark World, he’s supposed to be in love with Natalie Portman, etc., but he has no chemistry with anyone in that movie except Loki (Tom Hiddleston), because he has fun with that character and those scenes. Hemsworth and Chastain don’t have a ton of chemistry in this movie, but he clearly gets along so well with Frost and Brydon, and the three of them have a blast and a half. That’s 1.5 blasts they have. The dude needs to make some buddy comedies. I feel like that’d be good for him. Who knows, maybe the new Ghostbusters won’t be terrible. Could happen. Actually, that’s this movie’s main problem: it should’ve been funnier, lighter. Fix that and you fix everything.
As for the ladies (Chastain, Blunt, and Theron), I can honestly say that they are all in this movie. To varying degrees. Are they in it for anything but a paycheck? Absolutely not. But they are all in it, and because they belong to that upper tier of actors, they all try. They give this the same amount of effort as they give to every other role, and I have to commend that level of professionalism. Jessica Chastain even has a passable Scottish accent. Lesser actresses would have blown this off. Props to them.
The Huntsman: Winter’s War has been receiving mostly negative reviews and has underperformed at the box office, so I think that’ll be the end of that particular franchise. No more fairy tale movies from anybody but Disney for a while. Whatever. Listen, this movie was a lot better than most of the terrible 80s fantasy movies I’ve been reviewing lately, so that’s something, at least. I did not regret the time and money I spent to see it at the end of a hectic week. Sometimes we just need to be entertained.