2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman may have been a modest success at best, but it did a largely entertaining, visually stunning job of reinventing a classic tale for the post-Twilight, post-Dark Knight crowd. That doesn’t mean many craved a return to this world, with what is one of the more transparent cash-grabs in recent blockbuster memory (and that’s really saying something).
Part-prequel, part-sequel, Winter’s War follows The Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) as he seeks to reclaim his lost love, Sara (Jessica Chastain), and prevent the evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) and her sister, the Ice Queen Freya (Emily Blunt), from running riot over the land.
The real MVP of Winter’s War is not any of the illustrious cast nor first-time director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, but rather Oscar-nominated cinematographer Phedon Papamichael, who keeps the film looking slick during even its talkier moments, of which there are many. In fact, that’s the strangest thing about the movie; it tucks in the action and devotes far too much of it bloated 114-minute run-time to sluggish dialogues that add very little drama or pathos to the story.
Above all else, it’s deathly dull and fails to justify its own existence; Theron appears for what’s pretty much just an extended cameo (though once again has great fun hamming it up), while Blunt disappears out of the movie near-completely for its second act, Chastain is thoroughly wasted and gives a rare dodgy performance thanks to a distractingly off-kilter accent, while the same being true of Hemsworth, who pretty much ends up feeling like a supporting character in his own movie.
It’s also hilariously apparent how aggressively the movie has been written around Snow White as a character, most likely due to the Kristen Stewart-Rupert Sanders “scandal”, resulting in a brief glimpse of Snow with her face obscured by hair, but mostly just spoken references to what she’s been up to. If you needed further proof of how wildly unnecessary and shoehorned this film is, there it is.
In the end, it’s not awful, merely boring for a film so colourful and apparently vibrant; it wastes a top-drawer cast (aside from Sheridan Smith, who pretty much steals the movie as an hysterically funny female dwarf) and adds very little of real interest to the original film’s promising new mythos.
The Huntsman: Winter’s War is in UK cinemas now and US cinemas April 22nd