Fri. Feb 3rd, 2023
Imperator Furiosa, tell us how you felt in this movie!

Imperator Furiosa, tell us how you felt in this movie!

Universal

I saw Snow White and the Hunter, so I should have known the sequel would be terrible. But honestly, I’m not sure anything other than 24 hours of tickle torture with demon-possessed muppets could have girded me for The Huntsman: Winter War. It was like watching someone make a cinematic suicide soda Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Frozen, Planet of the Apesand (for that extra bad taste) Ted Danson on the side cheers. And the worst? It’s not made for the love of things so-bad-that-it’s-good, like a real suicide soda is. Nothing in this rambling, clunky film feels real – except for that one part where a sassy dwarf woman meets Eric the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth).

For whom the first film, the Hunter series is a retelling of the Snow White story done in the “hard fantasy” style popularized by Game of Thrones. That means the characters are more emo. The evil Queen Ravenna eats virgins obtained by her creepy incest brother, and there’s a class of characters called “Huntsmen” who are like fairy ninjas with axes. In the first movie, Snow White defeated Ravenna (or DID she?). The new movie is sort of an origin story about the hunters, minus Snow White, plus a bunch of other stuff that doesn’t add up.

So what makes The hunter so much more horrible than other horrible sequels made in a rough bid for money? Somehow this movie manages to display every cliché of fantasy and sci-fi sequels –then takes the raw narrative incoherence one step further. The film opens with Liam Neeson doing a voiceover about how “you know the story of Snow White, but there’s another story that happened way before that”. OK, fine, we’re doing a prequel. We see the rise of the wicked witch Ravenna (Charlize Theron, who chews the scenery so hard she channels William Shatner). There’s also the evil of her sweet-natured sister Freya (Emily Blunt, who looks surprised she’s in this movie) when her boyfriend betrays her and kills their baby.

Freya goes all out for Elsa Frozen and starts shooting ice out of every pore, then she goes north to kill a bunch of kings, so people can often say “king of the north” and wonder if there will be some kind of skinning musical number. This movie is based on the same source material that Frozen was, so maybe it was necessary to spice things up by stripping the whole ‘winter war’ thing off Game of Thrones. We finally meet Eric and Sara (Jessica Chastain, really REALLY acting, but why), who are the most skilled members of Freya’s army – an elite band called Huntsmen, who have been brainwashed since childhood to be emotionless killers.

Naturally, Eric and Sara fall in love, even though Freya forbids love, and it is assumed that this conflict will be the dramatic arc of the film. But no! Just as we approach the end of Act 1… BOOM! more voice over from Neeson and suddenly WE ARE IN A SEQUETATION. That’s right, this movie moves from prequel to sequel in one confusing voiceover. It’s like director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan couldn’t decide which trope would be the most trope-y, so he went for both.

Now the plot has completely changed course, and suddenly our ultra-emo characters are on a different quest, making female dwarf jokes. Eric tries to win Sara’s heart back by acting like Ted Danson in cheers. Meanwhile, Snow White has “fallen ill” and an evil force worse than death reigns over the whole land. A heinous magical weapon of mass destruction is on the loose and there’s an attack from trolls built using VFX software developed for Planet of the Apes (seriously, they move exactly like the chimpanzees in that movie and it’s distractingly unoriginal). With all this horror, the romantic tone of Eric and Sara’s relationship is mind-bogglingly random. “You know you like me because I’m awesome,” Eric tells grumpy Sara several times, using different variations of his trademark “I’m cute” smile. I’d buy their cute bottoms in a light fantasy, but this movie is about witches literally eating children’s hearts and using their powers to bring about another ice age. The “I’ve been brainwashed to be a killer by an evil queen, but I’m a fun, goofy dude” just doesn’t work.

Honestly, the only good thing about this movie is the fact that Ravenna gets to wear a lot of evil queen outfits.

Confession time: I actually liked it Snow White and the Hunter. Yes, it was cheesy and had viscous CGI faeries and dwarf vocals, and Kristen Stewart gives the most incoherent “rising speech” I’ve ever heard. But everyone involved looked like they were having fun. It was a solid B-movie with swords and magic and Charlize Theron played it up as one of the greatest wicked witches of all time. The Huntsman: Winter War feels like someone in the studio handed out suitcases full of cash to get Theron back along with great actors like Chastain and Blunt, but then didn’t bother to check if the movie had a plot beyond “all other fantasy films and TV hurl series.” Not even Hemsworth’s Thorish charms can make this movie enjoyable.

There’s something fascinating, in a purely sociological sense, about watching a movie like this. Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones may have revived the making of epic fantasy films, but they also inspire their fair share of stinky knock-offs. Some of those knockoffs are silly fun, like the first one Hunter movie. But this prequel-sequel abomination is hardly good enough to hate watching, unless you want to see the purest expression of making paint-for-dollars coming out this year.

By akfire1

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