‘The Huntsman: Winter’s War’ is a Bloated Bore

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CHICAGO – This new Hollywood fairy tale does have one thing in common with the bedtime stories of old…it may lull you to sleep in the first 30 minutes. “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” is a special effects extravaganza where the effects aren’t special, the story is thin, and almost all the actors seem to have been allowed or even encouraged to indulge their worst impulses.

If the original “Snow White and The Huntsman” is remembered at all, it’s more likely for the offscreen drama surrounding it rather than what ended up in the movie itself. This sequel is automatically superior to that drab, brooding, and slow moving mass of mediocrity by the simple fact that it does not star Kristin Stewart.

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Wicked: Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron in ‘The Huntsman: Winter’s War’
Photo credit: Universal Pictures

Instead we focus on Charlize Theron’s wicked queen, and her sister Freya (Emily Blunt), who is essentially and even more vindictive and messed Elsa from “Frozen.” After a traumatic event, Freya conquers the kingdoms of the north enslaving her empire in an eternal winter. For reasons that don’t make sense even by fairytale standards, she also steals the children of her conquered kingdoms and turns them into an elite fighting force called The Huntsman.

But two special ones emerge from the pack. They grow up to be Chris Hemsworth (looking and acting like Thor with an inexplicable scottish accent) and Jessica Chastain (marshalling her considerable acting strengths in service of such small returns). They fall in love and then are broken apart by the jealous queen.

The story then picks up after the events of the first Snow White film, and The Huntsman is back with two dwarfs in tow. He’s set off to try to keep that evil mirror mirror on the wall out of the hands of Freya who wants to use it to gain absolute power. But the film doesn’t work as an enchanted fairy tale, or as a swashbuckling adventure.

The fight scenes are average, and the special effects look like something out of either a perfume ad or a car commercial. However if watching beautiful women vamp in outrageous and gorgeous costumes is your sort of thing. Costume designer Colleen Atwood’s dazzlingly detailed gowns might be the only pleasure this film actually contains.

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Wild: Jessica Chastain and Chris Hemsworth in ‘The Huntsman: Winter’s War’
Photo credit: Universal Pictures

This may mark a career low point for Charlize Theron. While her costumes are beautiful and outlandish, she seems to be constantly trying to out-vamp Angelina Jolie’s performance in “Maleficent.” And her overacting isn’t helped by the tortured sounding dialogue she’s asked to spout while engaging in dramatic games of chess in dark castles. Emily Blunt comes off slightly better, if only because she embraces a somewhat chillier take on her character.

Some movies demand sequels, but who exactly was asking for this? I think “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” is likely to get left out in the cold, and rightly so.

”The Huntsman: Winter’s War” opens everywhere on April 22nd. Featuring Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain, Liam Neeson and Nick Frost. Written by Evan Spiliotopoulous and Craig Mazin. Directed by Cedric Nicholas-Troyan. Rated “PG-13”

HollywoodChicago.com contributor Spike Walters


© 2016 Spike Walters, HollywoodChicago.com

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