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The Huntsman: Winter's War (2016)
Tonight's Feature Presentation


Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chastain, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Nick Frost

Written By: Evan Spiliotopolous, Craig Mazin Directed By: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan

The Shot

It’s a prequel and a sequel rolled into one!  It’s also just about as standard a fantasy fairy tale as one can get without a dragon or a princess being involved, and you know what?  That’s just fine.  Enjoy The Huntsman: Winter’s War for the simple pleasure that it is.

The Highball

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?


Does it matter what flavor it is?  Not really.  It tastes familiar and it’s likable, so yeah.

Pairs Well With...


Unobjectionable, predictable, and totally acceptable.

“I never miss.”

Once upon a time, there was a movie called Snow White and the Huntsman, and it did well enough on the balance sheet that the Powers That Be in Accounting declared that a follow up would be a good idea.  But then a bunch of Tabloid Fodder happened, and some alterations were made to the plan, most of which involved Snow White being written as far out of the story as possible.  The result?  The Huntsman: Winter’s War, a combination prequel/sequel involving 99.99% less Kristen Stewart (she appears for about three seconds in some recap footage) and 100% more Jessica Chastain.

100% more Jessica Chastain, you say?  Count me in.

The benefit of doing a prequel/sequel to one of the world’s most familiar fairy tales is that one can expect a new audience to come in and be able to enjoy the story without having seen the first movie beforehand.  (99.99% less Kristen Stewart!)  The benefit of including an uncredited Liam Neeson voiceover narration is that the stuff that happens in the middle gets explained anyway, so all bases are covered, and even the slow class can be assured of not missing a thing.

With that in mind, The Huntsman: Winter’s War is about as cut and dried a standard fairy tale flick as one can get with the inclusion of a princess or a dragon.  Evil Queen’s sister discovers her own Inner Evil Queen and becomes ruler of the other half of the world.  Heroic Warrior is introduced, along with his One True Love.  They are separated, he believes her dead, we Insert The First Movie Here, and then there is… well, you’ve read more than a few fairy tales over the course of your life, haven’t you?  All right, then.  Exactly that.  Starring Chris Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain, with Evil Queens played by Charlize Theron and Emily Blunt.

At that point, I don’t care how predictable the resulting movie is, do you?  I mean, come on.  It’s a fairy tale.  If it doesn’t play to formula, something’s wrong.  Just give me a decent a cast with some competent talent behind the camera and it’s as hard to screw up as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  99.99% less and 100% more, right?  Right!  And hot damn, it happens to work.

Even though The Huntsman: Winter’s War really didn’t need to do much of anything beyond status quo to pass muster, everyone involved makes the effort anyway, and it shows.  The cast is high quality and doesn’t phone it in.  The visuals are beautiful.  The story is more than one layer deep.  No one’s intelligence is insulted.  The music is spot on, including the obligatory pop number that plays over the end credits.  It feels good to watch.  It’s… refreshing.

I could say more, but why overthink it?  The Huntsman: Winter’s War just isn’t that kind of movie.

I walked into The Huntsman: Winter’s War expecting very little, and I walked out pleasantly surprised.  In a year that’s overloaded with dreary modern-and-postmodernism, this movie hearkens back to something pleasantly familiar and entertaining that doesn’t refer back to a recent newscast or require one to have seen a dozen other films beforehand in order to understand what’s going on.  Sometimes simple is good, and this flick represents one of those occasions.  Now with 100% more Jessica Chastain, backed up by Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, and (100% more) Emily Blunt, thank you very much.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, June, 2016

You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


- copyright 2000-2016, Ziggy Berkeley and Cinema on the Rocks, all rights reserved.

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