Aug 222016
 

The Huntsman: Winter’s War isn’t terrible yet clearly a movie that should never have been greenlit (at best might’ve served well as a TV series with an unknown cast). Even so, there’s some moments that worked, the visual effects were OK and I did enjoy the ensemble cast, mainly Hemsworth and Chastain.

 

 

The Huntsman: Winter’s War
(2016)

Genre(s): Fantasy, Adventure, Drama, Romance
Universal Pictures | PG13/Unrated – 114 min. / 120 min. – $49.98 | August 23, 2016

Date Published: 08/22/2016 | Author: The Movieman

 


MOVIE INFO:
Directed by:
Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Writer(s): Evan Daugherty (characters), Evan Spiliotopoulos and Craig Mazin (written by)
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain, Nick Frost, Sam Claflin, Rob Brydon
DISC INFO:
Features:
Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Gag Reel
Digital Copy: Yes
Formats Included: 4K UHD, Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS:X)
Video: 2160p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Disc Size: NA
Codec: HEVC (UHD), MPEG-4 AVC (Blu-ray)
Region(s): A

 


THE MOVIE — 2.5/5


The Huntsman: Winter’s War is the prequel/sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman that nobody asked for as demonstrated by its downright dismal box office performance raking in a mere $164M worldwide (compared to the first’s $396M haul). But just because a movie has a needless sequel (as there are many out there) doesn’t mean it can’t be good, yet that’s the case here in spite of a well put together cast from Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron reprising their respective roles and newcomers Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain, but that talent amounts to nothing with a thin plot.

Note: This review contains MAJOR SPOILERS about the plot. Readers beware!

The movie is both a prequel and sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman starting 20 some-odd years prior where Queen Ravenna (CHARLIZE THERON) discovers her younger sister, Freya (EMILY BLUNT) is having an affair with a nobleman named Andrew and is carrying his child. After giving birth, for reasons unknown, Andrew murders their child. Now enraged, for good reason, Freya utilizes her once dormant ice powers and kills Andrew.

Heartbroken, Ravenna gives her sister a kingdom of her own in the north where she would rule as a tyrant, outlawing any forms of love and/or affection and kidnap villagers’ children to be trained to become members of her army, the select elite would be known as a Huntsman, including Eric (CHRIS HEMSWORTH) and Sara (JESSICA CHASTAIN), who fall in love which, upon discovery by Freya, tears them apart, by having the pair killed, though Eric manages to survive after being tossed of a ledge into a river. He survives where we fast forward seven years, during which the events from Snow White and the Huntsman occur.

Following his help in Snow White regaining her kingdom from Ravenna, Eric wanders the land still lamenting the loss of his love, when he’s approached by Prince William (SAM CLAFLIN) to track down the mystical mirror which was to be destroyed in Mount Doom… or something like that… where Snow’s soldiers turn on one another. So William enlists Eric to retrieve it before it can get in Freya’s hands where she could wield uncontrollable powers. Eric reluctantly agrees and accompanying him on this quest are Nion (NICK FROST reprising his role in the first movie) and his half-brother, Gryff (ROB BRYDON).

While partaking in some drinks at a village pub, the trio is accosted by Freya’s Huntsmen and Eric gets his ass kicked only to be saved by… Sara who is alive and well much to Eric’s amazement, though she’s not too keen on seeing him as, via her perspective, he ran away and left her to die while he thought she had died (it was all an illusion orchestrated by Freya, another one of her powers apparently). Anyway, this Fellowship gets back on the trail to find the mirror which got into the hands of goblins that bleed tar. Yeah, tar.

Eventually the movie leads to a third act that matches the synopsis from the UHD/Blu-ray back cover (and what was promised in the trailers) where Ravenna is brought back to life through the mirror and we get a sisterly fight between her and Freya.

END SPOILERS

The Huntsman: Winter’s War is hardly a terrible movie and I suspect fans of Once Upon a Time might find some amusement in the fairy tale aspects and the not-so-subtle nod with Freya to Anna from Frozen. However, there’s really no good reason for this movie to even exist. Snow White and the Huntsman was an entertaining if not wholly unremarkable fantasy-adventure more memorable for the off-camera affair between its director and star than with anything about the story.

Speaking of the director, no surprise Rupert Sanders did not return (though I doubt he’s crying, now working on Ghost in the Shell with Scarlett Johansson) with visual effects supervisor Cedric Nicolas-Troyan taking the reins after Frank Darabont bowed out during pre-production. And style-wise, CNT doesn’t do a half bad job even with a weak story while the effects were decent enough; I can’t think it would’ve been much of a better movie with the script (by Evan Spiliotopoulos and Craig Mazin) at hand.

Where the film kind of excels is with its cast. Chris Hemsworth, even with his thick Celtic (?) accent possessed great charisma while Jessica Chastain in her limited role was probably the highlight followed by Emily Blunt who doesn’t deliver a great performance but seeing her ride onto the battlefield on a polar bear is priceless. Charlize Theron has an appearance early on and later but seemed to chew the scenery to the same extent as in Snow White and the Huntsman.

In the end, The Huntsman: Winter’s War is the type of film destined to air on USA (or any other Universal-owned network) but in the meantime if you enjoy these fantasy adventure flicks, and liked the first movie, this might be worth a Netflix/Redbox rental, otherwise wait for a basement bargain priced Blu-ray release.

 

SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.75/5


This release comes with a glossy and reflective slip cover with rounded corners. Inside is a Blu-ray Copy and a redemption code for the Digital HD.

Extended Cut – This cut is about 6-minutes longer and is available on both the Blu-ray and UHD discs.

Audio Commentary – Director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan offers his thoughts on his feature-length debut, his approach to directing and other tid-bits. It is a tad too low key but he is at least somewhat informative. Available on both BD and UHD discs.

Deleted Scenes (8:57; HD) – There are only 4 scenes included and come with an optional commentary by Nicolas-Troyan. Nothing of particular note.

Gag Reel (9:43; HD) – Filled with the usual line flubs and the cast dealing with planes flying over while filming as apparently they were shooting over a flight pattern.

Winter’s Vistas: The Making of The Huntsman: Winter’s War (TRT 36:17; HD) is split into five parts and comprised of Two Queens and Two Warriors (7:22) on the four main actors (Theron, Blunt, Hemsworth and Chastain); Meet the Dwarfs (8:10) introduces us to Nick Frost and Rob Brydon and their characters; Magic All Around (8:44) looks at the usage of magic and visual effects in the movie; Dressed to Kill (6:03) on the costume design; and lastly Love Conquers All (5:58) on how the cast and crew got along during filming.

 


4K UHD VIDEO – 5.0/5, BLU-RAY VIDEO – 4.5/5


Universal Pictures releases The Huntsman: Winter’s War onto 4K UHD presented in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and given a spectacular 2160p ultra-high-definition transfer. Colors are vivid throughout and have a special pop off the screen while detail is generally sharp and well defined. It’s a splendid transfer that’s probably just a step above its Blu-ray counterpart.

Speaking of which, the Blu-ray transfer (MPEG-4 AVC codec) is impressive in its own right. Colors look fantastic and detail is quite good. There were no signs of artifacting, aliasing or other ailments making this visual effects extravaganza near reference quality even if the movie itself is anything but impressive.

AUDIO – 5.0/5


Both the 4K UHD and Blu-ray discs comes with a DTS: X track (decodes to DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1) for older systems and no surprise, it’s a strong and robust lossless track. It’s an evenly keeled kind of sound where nothing is overabundant, like the LFE which sometimes can come across too strong, but instead dialogue levels sound crisp and clean and the various action scenes have a nice robustness to them as well as depth making use of every available channel.

 


OVERALL – 3.0/5


Overall, The Huntsman: Winter’s War isn’t terrible yet clearly a movie that should never have been greenlit (at best might’ve served well as a TV series with an unknown cast). Even so, there’s some moments that worked, the visual effects were OK and I did enjoy the ensemble cast, mainly Hemsworth and Chastain. This is probably worth a rental but that’s about it. This UHD combo pack released by Universal offers excellent video and audio transfers while the bonus material is about average.

 

 

 

 

Check out some more screen caps (taken from the Blu-ray copy) by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.

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