Film Reviews

THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR

By • Apr 22nd, 2016 •

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Hemsworth is so charming he should be playing psychopaths. The man cannot stop smiling during a violent storm and here he’s a flirt in a fetching woodsman outfit.

I dreaded seeing this. No matter that the field of basic plots has gone from seven to 20 (The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories by Christopher Booker and 20 Master Plots by Ronald B. Tobias), the bigger the film’s budget the safer the plot.

The number one studio committee question must have been: Will character subtlety go over in China’s film market?

While the screenwriters, Evan Spiliotopoulos and Craig Mazin (with characters by Evan Daugherty) did not create an eighth or twenty-first plot, they could have sneaked in some Freudian subtext to the sibling rivalry.

Annoying Snow White is best left officiating as queen in some distant land. The real meat of this enhanced fairy tale is once again evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron). While enslaving her people and having no suitors or company, she does keep seamstresses busy. Her costumes are feats of construction.

Ravenna has a little sister, Freya (Emily Blunt), who is in love with an inappropriate man. Ravenna’s big Magic Mirror is once again asked that hoary question: “who’s the fairest of them all?” Gosh, her kingdom must be populated by only ugly women. Any woman with a decent set of teeth must have fled.

The Magic Mirror knows how to instigate the Queen. The Magic Mirror toys with her by announcing that little sister Freya is pregnant and the baby girl will grow up more beautiful than Ravenna.

So its jealousy and not the fact that her sister has found love, sexual pleasure with an “inappropriate” but sexually appealing man and can get pregnant?

You see, in my interpretation, Ravenna is barren and has an unfulfilled sexual life – whatever it’s orientation. She cannot allow Freya to become a mother. She inherited her power so the only thing she actually has conquered and maintained is her beauty.

The sad deaths of Freya’s lover and baby turns her heart literally to ice. She goes with an army to make herself a kingdom to her liking. The rule is Love is Forbidden. Freya’s ideal kingdom is made up of children she has taken from the lands she has destroyed. She raises them to be ignorant about love. They are trained to be fearless warriors called huntsman.

Following her sister’s lead, Freya’s royal wardrobe are architectural masterpieces. Her specialty is making ice.

Two of the best of the child warriors grow up to be Huntsman Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Huntswoman Sara (Jessica Chastain). When Freya catches these two getting too close, she must put a stop to it.

The Magic Mirror has been stolen and Eric and Sara are reunited and given the task of getting it back. They don’t want it but they are helped by dwarfs. Gryff (Rob Brydon) and Nion (Nick Frost) are followed by female dwarfs Bromwyn (Sheridan Smith) and Doreena (Alexandra Roach). They might not dress as well as Ravenna and Freya but I wanted more of these fully realized characters. And finally, someone – the dwarf Doreena – appreciates the glorious Hemsworth. Why the Black Widow doesn’t see the potential of Thor as a lover makes me question Thor’s sexual orientation. I’m sure Black Widow would have asked Pepper.

Hemsworth oozes charm and on film he’s a hell of a nice guy. He works well with Chastain who throws enough seduction at him to make him look sexually ready. This pairing is good cinematic chemistry. So is the sexual tension between Theron and Blunt. It falls to Theron, since her role is minor, to put something arch into her brief scenes. With Hemsworth busy with Chastian and fending off Roach’s dwarf, she only has Blunt to express her character’s sexual energy.

While I complained about the conventionality of the story, THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR is visually attractive, not tied too tightly to the origin story and creates a dual evil sisters’ scenario. Neither sister repents. I liked that.

 

Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/.

Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at victoria.alexander.lv@gmail.com.

 

 

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