Fussy Tongue reviews The huntsman: Winter’s war movie! Beware spoilers!
This is a review of the film The huntsman: Winter’s war after viewing it in 3D at the cinema. The movie was only watched once so there is a limitation as to how much details could have been seen and as to the amount we are going to report on even if we have seen it: this is simply because without the means to rewind or to take notes in the dark without annoying people in neighbouring seats, it is difficult to ascertain certain parts of the movie. Maybe our final verdict (out of 10 points and at the end of this review) would have been different if we had had those tools but we stand by what our first impressions are.
Review – The huntsman: Winter’s War – Trailer vs Film
The trailer had everything to entice: the photography had all the promises of visual wonder, the cast had filtered the lifeless acting, the previous director was given time to ponder and there was enough taunting about a battle between the ice queen and her evil queen of a sister to whet our appetite.
Now we’ve seen the movie, has the trailer delivered? Well, in many ways, where it hasn’t, the film did not disappoint, it just surprised. At those times, watching the movie highlights the clever choices made in the presentation of the promotional videos. Well, so clever they at times shot themselves, pardon the pun, in the reel. Any assumptions regarding the trailer were wiped out by the prequel and sequel construction of the film. It was hard to give space to any questions or doubt you might have had, as there was little time for catching one’s breath, not for excess of action but for a lot of facts and magic to take in.
Review – The huntsman: Winter’s War – Minus points
* The film gets points off for the gross underuse of Merlin actor Colin Morgan. He might not have the Hollywood look but thick facial hair, and make-up would have given him a more bewitching look which would have better justified that Freia could both suspect him of murder without further digging (especially knowing and seeing her sister there) and that she’d believe him to be a relative match in confidence to her sister to help her affirm herself to the evil queen. He would have also gained more credibility as her lover and father of a bastard child that way, as the frail quivering soul we were presented with looked neither able nor inclined to such courageous actions, and don’t talk to me about the power of boners!
* A role rather than an actor that was also underused is that of Tull played by Sope Dirisu. Tull carried on his face the one look that betrayed him to the ice queen (when he was captured in his youth) who singled him out for showing signs of her least favourite weakness. Yet that face barely changed as he grew and there was always a sign of his compassion every time he was involved in the action. Yet he portrayed a fierce warrior trusted by the very one who rebuked him for such display and was not given to naturally perform the actions that would undoubtedly make sense for his character, such as not so awkwardly and surprise-intended-yet-surprise-ridden-ly freeing Eric and Sara, the main characters. It seemed as if that character was written to be and do that and more and then someone changed their minds somewhere, for reasons unknown but that definitely affected the fluency of the plot…
* Is it me or the main sentence “if she couldn’t raise a child she would raise an army” feels like it is lacking the dots that less awkwardly connect the cause to the effect in that affirmation?
* Am I the only one who thinks that the heroes Eric and Sara or at least Tull should have gone by the ice queen’s side as she was dying? Is it acceptable that a grudge would justify her main huntsmen’s and the hero’s lack of empathy to the demise of someone who turned out to be, at least to some extent, a victim and was, for most of their lives, even though awkwardly and weirdly, their substitute mother? Certainly the circumstances which did see their parents perish and their love tortured also brought to light the ice queen’s own painful origins; and protecting them with her last icy breaths should have won a tiny piece of their heart? I really cannot help thinking that was a little cold on their part but then maybe the filmmakers found that ironic? Hmmm.
* I have a little annoyance for the role played by the only real strong female heroine who turned out to be the ice queen’s tool and Jessica Chastain, for all her great acting and acrobatics displays, still feels somehow wasted as she fails to truly inspire or be truly remembered after the film. I am also annoyed at the dwarves again playing mere ornamental side kicks. One of the female dwarves (Mrs Bromswyn) would have made such a great and proper heroine if the film did not insist on appeasing stupidity with outdated and boring stereotypes. While I am at it, the casting of non-dwarf in dwarf roles was short-sighted, no offense to the great talents who impersonated the roles or the well-done visual effects that made these possible.The one spot of colour, Tull, was stripped of the part he could have truly played as one whose face best displayed the pain of love and friendship lost both as a boy and as an adult. All these weaken the plot. Finally, the ice queen might have suffered from coming out so close after the highly successful animation Frozen in spite of their clear differences.
* The “exiled” huntsman is presented as weaker which makes complete sense since he has not been practicing much. However, he displays his lessened strength again and again as expected until the plot requires him to resume his part as the main hero. If it wasn’t for Hollywood insisting on lead roles being the physically strongest, films would not lose so much of their sense. Eric the huntsman would have worked better as a leader and rallier as his cool and laid-backness would help calm the troops, recruiting Tull, who he now knew did not kill his wife or him when he could have. Tull is the only huntsman we know came from the same lot of stolen children and would have been his striking hand since he would have continued to train and practice, and had the heart and facial expression to empathise with Eric’s venture.
* Finally, is the fact that the narration would not stop throughout the film might be an indication that they did not feel that the final edit would be clear enough?
Review – The huntsman: Winter’s War – Plus points
* The beauty of the images and their motion: I can honestly say that it is the first time in my movie aficionado life that I go and see a movie for its superficial presentation. Granted, that alone would not have done the trick which explains why I didn’t go to see Avatar for example. The promise of seeing beauties and excellent actresses Charlize Theron, whose beauty finally did not have to be stupidly compared to Kristen Stewart’s, and Emily Blunt. A better use of Jessica Chastain would have properly completed the threesome of beauty, action and motion brought by strong female leads.
* The way it makes you feel: you can forget all about a movie’s details but the way you feel while and after you watch the film tells you all about its impact on you. Its wonders and beauty were exceptional and transported me into the story, succeeding in making me empathise (but not necessarily side with) the bad witches. The cheesy love conquers all is only awkwardly shown by the ‘goody’ huntsman and wife in the pre-sequel. And although it seems Maleficent’s kiss had given us a similar semblant of a twist through Angelina Jolie’s characterisation, it is impossible to deny how much more efficient because more credible Emily Blunt’s character was in her actions: her saving those she considered her children made sense as she was realising that she could not protect her own baby from her the evil of her sister, and now had the chance to finally stand up to her especially with her now-acquired powers on her side and “redeem” herself.
* Castle, the main soundtrack sung by Halsey had a great instrumentation and arrangement to it that was cleverly added into the movie.
* The way that Ravena, the evil queen was resuscitated and the way she was led to die.
* The two queens present themselves through their garments and attitudes as sun and moon. This I find is a definite plus that might not have been meant by the scriptors, but also highlights the fact that the plot would have benefitted from showing us more about the dynamics between the sisters.
* The way that the trailer misguided us into believing we knew the end (see trailer): It might have been the naive side of my personality but the trailer had set an idea of the film that was almost totally swept away by the movie itself.
Review – The huntsman: Winter’s War – Ironic points (low, I know)
* The good-looking actress who portrayed Snow White in a previous installment was not missed but the psychological torture hinted at, paired with the torment shown to be endured by her character, got us hoping for a second that her acting skills had taken a new height and, as a result, were briefly shown on the movie.
* The film reveals that the huntsman believed that his wife was dead when he kissed Snow White. It is hard not to see the parallel with the behind the scene events when the director and Kristen Stewart did a more contemporary version of the same kiss. Can we call this a “director’s cut” explanation for that indiscretion?
Review – The huntsman: Winter’s War – Verdict
Entertainment value 8.5/10
If it is not the breathtaking scenery or the surprising twists, it’ll be the fight scenes or the literal magic and its effects. Add some comic relief (although their unsubtle addition is also a first reason for point deduction), romance (even if the convenient triple pairings made it unrealistic, another reason for point deduction) and war (although most of them are implied rather than seen, hence points deduction), which adds to the passion in the movie.
Visual effects 9/10
Stunning photography combined with beautiful motions. Point off for the film sometimes wallowing and lingering in its own beauty, as if bewitched by the hypnotising line “mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”
The few inconsistencies do not quite deter from a good enough plot, not least for its surprising little touches of twists nicely spread around the film. It is generally in the deleted scenes that you realise what the film editor has cut off, taking out some of the plot’s flow. We do wish the dominance of the evil sister was clearer; that the relationship between the ice queen and her boyfriend related to the sister’s dynamics and interactions a lot more and thereby to the plot beyond the mirror’s fatal words; that the apparently compulsory dwarves were indeed dwarves and spared us from the dwarfist remarks (that really should be banned since we know the actors were not in fact dwarves, and beyond that, these remarks should be banned, period.) and clichés like being the comic relief (really? in 2016? in the evolutionary age of). A little longer final fight between the sisters would have been more exciting, with the prodigal huntsman and wife siding with his undeserving but redeemed adoptive mother, forgiven through the understanding of the circumstances but not sympathised with.
Points taken out for some overacting moments and some clichés dialogues delivered without originality, no special mentions 😉 Also, wait, did the huntsman have a Scottish accent in the previous film? Surely I’d remember if Thor stupped from a godly “sayeth what?!”1 to a definitely human “aye”, wouldn’t I?
It is a pleasure to see Charlize Theron again and to welcome Emily Blunt who gives breadth and emotional depth to her character in spite of the lack of corresponding lines. Who did not feel like being at her side (except for her main huntsmen whose grudge seemed to justify a hero’s lack of empathy to the demise of a person who appeared as a victim, watching her die rather than empathising to the circumstances which although saw their parents perish and their love tortured was brought to a light that showed the ice queen’s own painful origins) as she died, protecting them with her last icy breaths? Finally, the casting of non-dwarf in dwarf roles was short-sighted, no offense to the great talents who impersonated the roles.
Final Points (Entertainment + Visuals + Plot x2+Acting+Casting)/6 = 7.5 / 10
1Originally, as far as we know, from Hishe (How It Should have Ended), a critical look at how movies should have ended if they were less Hollywood convenience. Here playing on Thor’s and Loki’s way of talking comes one of their funniest impersonation, Sayeth what: here are links to Thor saying it and Loki saying it.