Jeez that Frozen was a terrific film. Catchy tunes, loveable sidekicks, a woodsman hero and - at its heart - two sisterly princesses thrown into turmoil after one of them discovers her power to manipulate ice and flees to establish an unforgiving frozen kingdom in the north.
Jeez that The Huntsman: Winter War isn't a terrific film. No tunes, stilted sidekicks, a woodsman hero with a comically bad Scottish(?) accent and - at its heart - two sisterly princesses thrown into turmoil after one of them discovers her power to manipulate ice and flees to establish an unforgiving frozen kingdom in the north.
Perhaps you could be forgiven for trying to leverage some of the success of the former. After all, it is the ninth highest grossing film of all time. But ‘beautiful girl doing cool shit with chilly water’ isn’t enough to constitute an entire story, you still need, well, ‘a story’, and it’s on that front where The Huntsman: Winter War really falls apart. It begins with Liam Neeson's voice telling us we’re about to see a prequel to 2012’s Snow White & The Huntsman, and the Neeson voice - like the proverbial mirror on the wall - does not lie.
But then, about half an hour in, The Huntsman: Winter War suddenly turns into a sequel, making this about as a close as a film will ever come to possessing a literal 'plot twist’. Eventually deciding it’s set after Snow White has vanquished the evil Ravenna (Charlize Theron), we find our Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) moping about the South and mourning the loss of his wife (Jessica Chastain), before committing to foil the evil ice queen Freya (Emily Blunt) in her attempt to secure the famous mirror. The rest of the movie is a collection of dazzling special effects, shaky fight scenes and a few funny lines from dwarf sidekicks Nick Frost and Rob Brydon.
Theron, it must be said, lights up every scene she’s in, reminding us that she absolutely is the fairest (and most interesting) in the land. Alas, her screen time is also the most restricted, reducing her menacing smile and genuinely engaging relationship with her sister to bookends around an otherwise entirely dull affair.