Film Review: The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016)

a stag in fog; text reads 'film review: r crunden'

I have a real fondness for Snow White and the Huntsman (2012). I liked the casting, the storyline, the cinematography. It was fun and beautifully shot and moved along at a cracking pace. All in all, it’s just an overall fun fantasy movie. I hadn’t watched The Huntsman: Winter’s War, it’s sequel, however. Not for any particular reason, though. Just never got around to it. I finally decided to give it a go and I’m so glad I did – somehow Eric’s story has much, much more romance than Snow White’s, more adventure and fighting, and a broader plot than just Snow White against the Evil Queen. Like, I really enjoyed the first one, but I found this sequel such fun. It felt like a really fresh fantasy romance epic and I laughed through most of it because there are so many good one-liners and jokes. The dwarves and the huntsmen are just so, so fun together as a crew who join forces to fight against a new evil queen.

Winter’s War focuses on the Evil Queen’s sister, the Ice Queen, and her bitter war against love following the murder of her daughter by the man she had fallen madly in love with. With brutal hatred, she steals the children of her kingdom and turns them into her huntsman – the only law she enforces, other than loyalty and subservience, is that love is a sin. This law is wildly violated by Eric and Sara, two huntsmen who fall in love over the years, fighting and training side by side. When the Ice Queen discovers their romance, she ‘kills’ Sara and has the huntsmen toss Eric’s body into the sea. This is where the film turns from a prequel of Snow White, into it’s sequel.

Eric crosses paths with Snow White, helps her win her kingdom, and seven years later is on his own in a much more peaceful kingdom. That is, until King William, Snow White’s husband from the first film, arrives to tell him that the Magic Mirror has been stolen and Snow wants Eric to track it down and ensure that it’s dealt with. Eric reluctantly agrees and, along with one of the seven dwarves from the first film, Nion, and his half-brother Gryff, goes on a quest to find the Magic Mirror. Along the way, they run into trouble with more huntsmen, sent by the Ice Queen, only to be saved by Sara, who is very much not dead.

Eric, delighted by Sara’s return, is stunned to learn that Sara was locked in the dungeon after he left – him seeing her die was a trick of the Ice Queen. The trick played on Sara was believing Eric had abandoned her without thought or care. Now hardened by years of pain and anger, Sara rebuffs Eric, but he’s not remotely swayed and continues trying to convince her that their love is true and they’re meant to be together. From there, things only ramp up as everyone tries to settle their debts.

I really adored this whole movie. It’s epic, adventurous, hilarious and romantic. I loved all the individual romances; I loved the inclusion of the dwarf couples and banter; I loved the adventure side stories and the parts of the Enchanted Forest that we see. It’s overall just a very fun fantasy film with a whole lot of heart and I have to say, these two films are definitely on the top of my favourite Snow White adaptations. Bring on a third Huntsman film, please!

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