Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Jessica Chastain and Emily Blunt
Running Time: 113 minutes
Release Date: April 8th
Although never once uttered, “Well, that was convenient enough” should still be the definitive quote we cling onto from Cedric Nicolas-Troyan’s sequel-cum-prequel to Snow White and the Huntsman, entitled The Huntsman: Winters War. Said by the audience, as they are beaten into submission by one deus ex machina after another, it is the new “So it goes”, the sound of an audience collectively quitting thought and accepting that no matter the situation, convenient coincidences shall prolong the adventure. Is a Goblin about to beat you to death? No problem. Set it on fire, because everyone knows Goblin blood is made out of flammable tar. “Well, that was convenient enough”, says the audience. “Yep”, replied the Huntsman, “It sure was.”
And so, who is the Huntsman, and why does he deserve a sequel? An excellent question, which can be answered quite simply: he was the man sent by the Evil Queen Ravenna (yes, that’s actually what they call her) to kill Snow White in the last film, and no, he certainly did not. The Huntsman is Chris Hemsworth, which is to say, the only douche in Hollywood not to have started out on Friday Night Lights. He is Fairy Tale Bro, doing to the Brothers Grimm what Deadpool is doing to the comic book genre, which is to say he is adding a tinge of meta-humour and throwing about a few dirty words.
This is a major step backwards for what it would appear I must now class as a “franchise”. Make no mistake Snow White and the Huntsman was a flaming heap of stylized excrement, but at least it served a purpose, which was to make the titular character into a Joan of Arc figure. A noble effort to ignore the “step aside woman, I’ll take care of this” mentality of the original tale itself, The Huntsman brings us back to the male saviour, whose life has been one cruel blow, after another, because of the matriarchy.
Now, Nicolas-Troyan will attempt to play Joss Whedon here, and bluff by pretending that this is about empowered women, but really, when he says female empowerment, what he actually means is “Bitch”. There is no Snow White, nor any heroic female characters. There are only devil women, imbued with magical powers and obsessed with vanity, and these women are the Evil Queen Ravenna and her sister, Freya, the Ice Queen.
Sisters at odds with one another, their quarrelling was largely over emotions, family and men. When we meet them, Ravenna is already a fully bloomed monster, whose powers were realised long ago, while Freya is still kind, humble and earthly. Longing to be a mother, she manages to push one out, but, Ravenna, furious over this choice, decides to torch the baby, literally burning it to the ground, hence, unleashing the psychopathic witch hidden deep within Freya.
Without anything else to live for, Freya forms a kingdom, an icy one in the “South” to Ravenna’s in the “North”. There is a time leap, she becomes obsessed with child warriors, and just when things cannot get any duller, we switch over to follow the story of Eric the Huntsman and Sara the Warrior, two shrewd fighters, whose lives belong to Freya. Yet, there is a problem, because Freya hates love, and emotions, so when she catches these two entwined in a sensual soiree of solid fucking, she tears them apart and exiles Eric.
At this point, the first film happens. Snow White kills Ravenna and becomes the Queen of the North, Kristen Stewart does not sign on for a sequel and Freya’s empire expands. The lapse is about seven years, so when we rejoin Eric, his only purpose is to find the Mystical Mirror that drove Snow Dubya insane and insure that it does not fall into the hands of Freya. Really, the plot becomes so thin here that you could use it to pick a piece of steak out from between your teeth, and for about sixty minutes, the only thing that seems to happen follows this basic format: Eric gets into trouble, a convenient plot device makes itself known to Eric, Eric gets out of trouble.
It is about as lazy as a script can get, until the final showdown between Eric and Freya, which happens about ten minutes after the story has already died. Shoddy explanations are bandied about to tie up stories nobody saw enough of to give a shit about, and the magical powers of the Queens, which Nicolas-Troyan is still undecided on whether these can be countered by non-magical acts, or weapons.
If it were not for some intermittently breath-taking cinematography, there would be absolutely nothing of value contained herein. A sequel for sequel’s sake, The Huntsman is a pointless work, so bad that it is not even tolerable from an ironic point of view.