Rated: PG-13 for fantasy action violence and some sensuality. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: April 22, 2016 Released by: Universal Studios, Inc.
More preposterous if less gloomy and lugubrious than its predecessor starring Kristen Stewart as Snow White is what's stretched with emphasis on set-pieces and special effects. Not making The Huntsman: Winter's War the entertaining romantic comedy fantasy actioner obviously intended; maybe for some on-lookers a darker take on Disney's hit Frozen from a standpoint of lost love.
Cedric Nicolas-Troyan coincidentally steps into the director's chair with the set-up much prior to "long before happily ever after" in the kingdom where very imperious malevolent immortal queen Ravenna (a still stunning, if one-note Charlize Theron of Mad Max: Fury Road) and soon to be made-over more initially serene, yet rueful and loathing sister Freya (Emily Blunt of Edge of Tomorrow) have more conquering aspirations.
A glamour permeates these two siblings with liquid gold imbuing the ravishing, jealous Ravenna and equally alluring and unforgiving sleek silvery ice regality of Freya whose special amenities, including a mask, take her beyond a peripheral examination of the kingdom.
Within the conflict between them (as slithery creatures foreboding appear atop Ravenna's gold figure), there is a large golden-horned ape with quite a gold necklace, nocturnal fireflies and instantly constructed ice walls. The conflict in the tenuous screenplay by Evan Spiliotopoulos and Craig Mazin includes the previously valiant titular Eric (Chris Hemsworth, best known in the Thor series and very good in Ron Howard's Rush) and his forbidden, Katniss Everdeen-like lover Sara (Jessica Chastain of Help and Zero Dark Thirty).
There'll be smaller goblins to deal with as the droll Eric comes into contact with conceited funny dwarves (digitally designed) Nick Frost's Nion and Rob Brydon's Gryff upstaged amusingly by their female counterparts as played with saucy tenacity by Sheridan Smith and Alexandra Roach.
Genre fans won't mind the energy of the enterprise when it comes to rooftop drops, cliff ascending, gymnastics, and the use of arrows, axes, knives and swordplay. Sara and Eric have a passion for one another but it doesn't translate well after beginning in a hot spring. Probably due to the fact that it is uneven and too laborious like what the plot resembles.
Ravenna disparagingly mentions "they're in love; they reek of it" and Winter's War doesn't do much justice to the Huntsman as a kind of prequel/sequel to a fairy that just can't deliver from structural pretext. Even if the inanity and emotional enervation of it all is countered in part by Colleen Atwood's ravishing costume designs (especially in Freya's makeover) and a polished physical production to heighten the imagery enhanced by Nicolas-Troyan. Whose technical expertise gets the better of him in his first go-round behind the camera.
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