In 2012, the movie Snow White and the Huntsman (which no one was requesting) was released. It was an attempt to action-up the Snow White story and tell it just a little closer to the original Grimm tale. It cast Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman, and attempted to see if Kristen Stewart could get enthusiastic as an armor-wearing, army-leading Snow White. Spoiler alert – she still sleepwalks through the movie. You would think the rumored affair with the director would have caused her to have a little more interest in the performance. The movie was terribly uneven, misusing Sam Clafin, and making the bizarre choice to cast standard-sized humans as the 7 dwarves and then CGI them into the dwarves from the story. In any case, none of that mattered, because the only reason to see the movie was Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen who stole the movie by vamping her through some amazing costumes and chewing all the scenery.
I wasn’t sure the movie was all that much of a success, but it did well enough overseas to justify a sequel. Honestly – I think I prefer this one to the previous one…but not by much.
The movie plays as a prequel-sequel in that it starts with the story previous to the events of the last movie. We learn how the evil queen Ravenna ascended the throne with the elimination of her husband the king. We also see how her younger sister Freya was more sweet, kind, and innocent, and doesn’t yet have the magic her sister has, but Ravenna promises her that all the women in their family have it, so eventually her magic will kick in. Frey falls in love with a prince, and even though he’s promised to another, she gets pregnant, and he promises to leave his betrothed to be with her and their child. She agrees to meet him in the garden, but while out there – a fire breaks out – and she runs back to her room to see her love standing over her baby’s crib with a torch. Devastated and furious – her magic definitely kicks in and turns her into an ice queen and she promptly freezes and shatters that guy – then takes an army and wanders north – conquering the lands there as Ravenna established her kingdom in the south.
Freya builds her army by stealing children and raising them as her Huntsmen – teaching them to never love or hold anything dear. Well, sure enough, the best of her army, Eric and Sara fall for each other and agree to run away together. This upsets Freya a great deal – and she creates a complicated scenario in which they have to fight their way free, but then get separated by her wall of ice, and Sara sees Eric walk away, abandoning her, while Eric sees Sara get stabbed and die. Harsh punishment. Eric gets conked on the head and dumped in the river, then we catch up with him later after the events of the first movie have passed.
We learn that Ravenna’s spirit is trapped in the mirror, not really having been defeated in the first movie – and that the mirror is driving Snow White insane, so she sends it away. The Prince recruits Eric, the Huntsman, to escort the mirror to a ‘sanctuary’ – which I can only assume is a large secret vault somewhere full of magical items. Well, Eric is promptly joined by one of the dwarves from the previous movie and his buddy – then two female dwarves, and finally Sara – who is – spoiler – not nearly as dead as he had thought. Together, this ragged band of adventures gets the mirror back from some goblins with gold fingers but then are betrayed and lose the mirror to Freya. Freya sets her sister free, and then is immediately disappointed as she had owned the movie up to that point – but the instant Ravenna shows up, once again Charlize steals the movie and we get a final battle between all parties.
Similar to the first movie, the plot is a little weak, but the visuals are mostly stunning. I could have done without the dwarves again, but the action wasn’t bad. I was mystified by the Scottish (?) accents the Eric and Sara were using – I suppose they are ‘northern’ so it sort of makes sense, but they were a little suspect. The movie is directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, and again –looks great, but is pretty weak everywhere else. The cast is great, but most seem wasted or underused – or used wrong.
- Chris Hemsworth as Eric is game to run around with an axe, but the Scottish accent just seems weird.
- Jessica Chastain plays his wife Sara, who is clearly not dead, and is also a pretty good ‘huntsman’, but again – the Scottish accent was strange.
- Nick Frost returns from the first movie as Nion the dwarf. Rob Brydon plays his associate dwarf Gryff.
- Sheridan Smith plays Mrs. Bromwyn and Alexandra Roach plays Doreena; the two female dwarves who complete the team – you can guess where that goes.
- Sope Dirisu plays another of Freya’s huntsmen – Tull. He grows up with Eric and Sara, and is the one tasked with punishing them when they break the rules and fall in love.
- Emily Blunt does a fantastic job as Frey – but the problem with any ice-witch is now comparisons to Frozen. I thought she was wonderful, and the costumes were stunning.
- But once again – it’s Charlize’s movie. She’s only in the last half-hour or so and she still completely steals it. Freya really had the movie up til that point, but Ravenna just sweeps in once freed from the movie and sprinkles evil gold leaf over everything.
Overall, it’s not terrible, but it’s certainly not great. The costumes on the two queens are lovely, and the landscapes are stunning. The action isn’t bad, and I found the gold-tipped goblins interesting, but we really spend no time with them.
5 out of 10 – hey, at least it looked pretty.
Bonus – Cast Interviews
Bonus – For some reason I kept thinking about this movie - Ridley Scott's Legend, from 1986. Hey – don’t touch the unicorn!