Movie Review – The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016)

The Huntsman: Winter’s War
Directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: August 23, 2016

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I love movies and books that take an existing legend or story and add new depth to it. So when I heard about the “retelling” of Snow White in SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN, I was very intrigued. After all, my generation grew up with Disney’s version of her story, therefore I figured a new twist would be a nice change.

Interestingly, I didn’t find the updated tale as likeable as I had hoped. Perhaps the casting choice to use Kristen Stewart threw me off (I like her, but I’m not convinced she was right for the role), or maybe the story was too drastically different from Walt’s vision; whatever the case, I didn’t enjoy it like I thought I would.

So when the announcement was made about a sequel/prequel, I was skeptical. Would my experience be the same with this new film? I wasn’t sure if I should even give it a chance, however I hate leaving anything undone (particularly not finishing movies or TV shows)…so with a bit of trepidation, I sat down to watch THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR.

I’m very happy to report this film far exceeds its predecessor. It does not take itself quite as serious as the first film, and the result is a much improved entertainment experience.

If you are not familiar with THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment:

If it’s the Snow White tale you’re looking for, discover the story that came before… Chris Hemsworth and Oscar winner Charlize Theron return to their roles in the epic action-¬adventure The Huntsman: Winter’s War, joined by Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain. Theron stars as evil Queen Ravenna, who betrays her good sister Freya (Blunt) with an unforgiveable act, freezing Freya’s heart to love and unleashing in her an icy power she never knew she possessed. As war escalates between the two queens, Eric the Huntsman (Hemsworth), and his fellow warrior, Sara (Chastain), must help Freya vanquish her sister… or Ravenna’s wickedness will rule for eternity.

My wife even enjoyed this film, and she can be very difficult to please when it comes to fantasy films. She has more of a serious-toned view on the genre, therefore she will not tolerate much (if any) hokiness. The fact that she had a good time watching this one is a testament to the quality of the film.

THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR is shot very well and looks stunning onscreen. The HD bursts from the screen like a paint-shop explosion, creating a realistic and immersive world in which the story takes place. Likewise, the sound quality is excellent; it pushed my surround sound to its limits, and I loved every minute of it.

The acting is superb, with a stellar all-star cast. Chris Hemsworth once again dons the mantle of The Huntsman, however this time he seems more at ease than he did in the previous film. Granted, the circumstances within the story are quite a bit different, but I felt like Hemsworth enjoyed making this film more than the last, for some reason. Charlize Theron revels in her role as Queen Ravenna, while Emily Blunt shines as her sister Freya. Likewise, Jessica Chastain rounds out this great group of actors.

The story in THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR is a tad more complex than that of SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN. It’s a bit of a prequel and a sequel, all rolled into one. This makes the movie more interesting, however it can also throw the viewer for a loop as well; in some parts of the film, a lack of attention can cause for confusion.

But THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR is a definite win for me, and I highly recommend it. Chocked full of breathtaking imagery and a keen sense of self, this film entertains on several levels. It will hit store shelves next week, so make a note.

Be sure to check out the 4K Ultra HD as well. The picture is sharper and more vibrant, and the audio quality is even better than real life! Special Features include:

• Digital Copy of The Huntsman: Winter’s War – Extended Version (Subject to expiration. Go to NBCUCodes.com for details.)
• Includes UltraViolet (Subject to expiration. Go to NBCUCodes.com for details.)
• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
• Gag Reel
• Winter’s Vistas: The Making Of The Huntsman: Winter’s War
• Feature Commentary with Director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
• Feature Commentary With Director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan

The 4K and Blu-ray versions include Special Features not available on the DVD:

• Two Queens and Two Warriors featurette
• Meet the Dwarfs featurette
• Magic All Around featurette

MSB

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