This week I went to see The Huntsman: Winter’s War. Ferrero Rocher meets Bacofoil. Spoilers follow, if anyone cares.
The movie stars an Oscar winner (Charlize Theron), an Oscar nominee (Jessica Chastain) and a good prospect for a future Oscar (Emily Blunt). Chris Hemsworth may not be thought of in the same acting class, but he has more than his fair share of charisma and is a definite box office pull. With support from the ever-reliable Nick Frost and Ron Brydon, plus big screen appearances for Sherdian Smith (let’s hope a Hollywood breakthrough really comes through one day) and Alexandra Roach (who I recognized but took me a while to connect with Utopia) this should have been excellent. Apart from a few quibbles, it also looks fantastic – the Ferrero Rocher quip was a cheap shot but it did spring to mind when Charlize Theron reappeared near the end, teamed with Emily Blunt amidst the Ice Palace.
So what went wrong? Just the script, the plot, the directing – and Jessica Chastain’s “Scottish” accent.
Let’s get the latter out of the way first. While Chris Hemsworth’s accent is just as bad, somehow when delivered through his cheeky grin, or dour scowl, he can get away with it. Since it was a “feature” of the first movie, he couldn’t really drop it for the sequel. However, there was absolutely no reason to make Jessica Chastain follow suit, and shame on whoever thought it was a good idea – she deserved better.
I won’t dwell too much on the script, the plot and the directing, but I’ll throw in a few random thoughts. The best dialogue was reserved for the supporting actors, and it’s almost like they improvised some of it. Emily Blunt did the most with what she had to work with, although I think that if her backstory and the reason for her becoming the Ice Queen had been held back to the end it would have had more impact. Instead, she appeared to be too sympathetic because we knew too much about her, and the betrayal by her sister was so obvious that to hold it for a reveal at the end was pointless. Charlize Theron wasn’t on screen long enough to have a real impact.
The real stars of The Huntsman: Winter’s War were the visuals, especially Emily Blunt’s costumes (okay, the Bacofoil reference was unfair, but I still can’t get the thought out of my head) and the all-too-brief mossy snake. The only criticism relates to Charlize Theron’s wispy tentacles, which seemed like a placeholder for a better effect that no-one could think of during post production. The fight scenes were generally good, but looked like they had been filmed to be more violent, then edited down to keep the child-friendly rating. Ditto the baby cremation at the beginning (how dark was that!) and I genuinely feared for one moment that they were going to show the contents of the crib. Maybe there’s a R-rated cut waiting for home release (just joking).
Conclusion – The Huntsman: Winter’s War
I’m clearly the wrong demographic for this movie – the screening I went to was largely filled with young children (mostly girls) and their parents, still on their Easter break. The friend I went with (male and of similar age to me) spent most of the film asleep. I’m fairly tolerant of poor films, and managed to stay awake, but my first reaction was just that it was “alright”. In hindsight that was probably over-generous. I can’t recommend it unless your kids want to go.
I’ll finish with a fairly neutral rating out of 10. Only the cast and the visuals saved this from a significantly lower rating.
(5 / 10)