This one's worth skipping.

This one’s worth skipping.

Chris Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain in 'Huntsman'.

Chris Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain in ‘The Huntsman’.

Go away, Anna!

Go away, Anna!

“Hey, I got one! Haven’t you guys always wondered what happened to that one guy from Snow White who was gonna assassinate the princess but didn’t?” “Not… particularly?” “Also, wouldn’t it be cool if it turned out that the Evil Queen had this forgotten sister with awesome freezing powers and an ice fortress?” “Can’t say it would.” “Well fuck you, that’s the movie we’re making! 150 million dollars please.”

When Snow White and The Huntsman came to theaters in 2012, I enjoyed it, and not only because my tastes weren’t highly evolved. I thought it was an original adaptation that didn’t rely too excessively on the viewer’s familiarity with any previous version of the brothers Grimm fairy tale, including the 1937 Disney iteration. Looking back at it, however, there’s definitely something about them putting Kristen Stewart as Snow White inside silvery armor in an effort to pass her off as badass that makes me snicker a little.

What’s more, this non-awaited midquel-sequel of sorts clearly has no intention to be an original take on anything. This one was, as per my assumption, made only because enough people saw the first film in order for the word “Huntsman” to be a remunerative thing to write on the poster. Granted, Chris Hemsworth was most memorable out of Snow White‘s two leads, but did anyone really crave to see him in a fairy tale of his own?

Early parts of The Huntsman take place long before Snow White. In a story that feels lifted straight from one of those direct-to-video sequels Disney used to churn out back in their golden shower years, we learn that the villain from the last movie, Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) has an equally heinous, never-before-mentioned sister played by Emily Blunt. Her name is Freya and she bears the child of the Duke of Blackwood (Colin Morgan). Ravenna’s Magical Mirror (voice by Chris Obi) warns that this child will surpass Ravenna in her fairness should she ever come of age. And no, it isn’t Show White It couldn’t be since the child is shortly murdered by the Duke, prompting Freya to kill him with her ice powers and go build a frosted fortress of solitude in the distant North. Any and all similarities with Frozen are purely coincidental, I promise.

Or maybe they really just don't know the difference between 'Snow White' and 'Snow Queen'.

Or maybe they sincerely just didn’t know the difference between ‘Snow White’ and ‘The Snow Queen’.

In her palace, Freya spends most of the passing years making cold-hearted soldiers out of abducted children. Two of said children grow up to become Sarah (Jessica Chastain) and Eric, our Huntsman for the evening (Hemsworth). As romance blooms between these young hotties, Freya casts a spell that ruins any chance of a relationship for them. What can thaw a frozen heart, I wonder?

After the time skip, I’m pretty sure the film instead takes place after Snow White. The film’s central struggle, or at least the subplot that comes closest to resembling one, is the fight for Ravenna’s mirror, which gets stolen back and forth as the film progresses. In the confusion, Eric runs into several characters from the other movie, including Sam Claflin‘s King William and a dwarf played by Nick Frost. I can’t say I developed much of an emotional connection with any of these people, despite none of them being Kristen Stewart.

As far as I know, one of the primary reasons Stewart didn’t return for this one was because of an affair she had with the original film’s director Rupert Sanders, which eventually grew into quite the scandal behind-the-scenes. The Huntsman script went back and forth for a while after that, with even Frank Darabont set to direct it for a while, until the movie finally landed in the hands of Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, making it his directional debut. I suppose it’s a passable first outing but I’d be lying if I said it was anything special. One of the only other films Cedric has on his résumé is Maleficent so maybe that explains it?

With the occasional neat effect, dazzling costume (Emily Blunt’s Vitas hat is a thing of dreams), appealing scenery and decent action moment, I still get the impression that this movie is mainly a money-grub, and one built around a not very interesting excuse-plot at that. It really does sound like something out of Disney’s direct-to-DVD library. “Hey kids, remember the characters from Snow White? Well now they have to reunite and conduct a rescue mission because, oh no, the Magic Mirror has been kidnapped by the Evil Queen’s crazy sister, who totally isn’t Elsa by the way! Swearsies.” I can see this version in front of me now. They would give Dopey the dwarf a dim-witted love interest with the same personality and foolish demeanor and everything.

It remains to be seen if people will indeed see this movie because they loved the original and love Chris Hemsworth. Seems to me like there are better options playing right now. The nostalgic Disney fanatics will get more out of that half-bearable Jungle Book remake and those who want to see some sweet action for over 90 minutes should really do themselves the favor of seeing Hardcore Henry in this film’s stead. I’m sure the earth will keep on spinning.

2/5 whatever

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