It’s time to look at the sequel that leaves you feeling a little puzzled. Why did the Huntsman get his own film? I don’t fully understand! Anyway, this film does have some really good action scenes and the plot is also more interesting than the first film. That being said, a really forced romance between the two leads holds this film back quite a lot. I dare say that it would have been pretty good without that, but the romance goes on for so long and takes away from so many scenes that I have to lower the score. Regardless, it is certainly better than the last film that I just reviewed.
The film starts off with a flashback to show us Eric’s origin before he was the legendary Huntsman. He grew up under the rule of Queen Freya and was forced to participate in her wars. It was the only life that he knew though so he worked hard and made it to the top of the ranks. Unfortunately, he broke Freya’s most important rule by falling for another warrior named Sara. As Freya realized that any romance was doomed to an untimely end, she decided to destroy them. To their credit, Eric and Sara put up a pretty good fight. They were heavily outnumbered, but took down a majority of the troops. Unfortunately, Sara was eliminated from behind and Eric was forced to beat a hasty retreat.
It made for a pretty epic opening to the film. The fight scenes were well handled and we got a glimpse of Freya’s true power. This whole scene would be very important later on when you keep Ravenna’s illusion magic in mind. The film then jumps quite a few years into the future as the story now takes place after the Snow White film. The Queen has fallen ill thanks to the magic mirror that she stole from the villain and it was sent away. The problem is that the foot soldiers were all killed off and Queen Freya managed to get her hands on it. I have to say that this was pretty sloppy of the heroes. What did they really expect was going to happen when they left to transport the most dangerous weapon in the kingdom? Eric is tasked with going to find it, but a pair of Dwarves tag around to bring the writing down a few pegs. Also, Sara shows up so Eric has to ask himself some tough questions. Did she really die or did he just use that as an excuse to escape with his life?
As mentioned before, the film squanders its positives by including a lot of negatives. The Dwarves are a good example of that. We get 4 of them to appear as main characters and they spend the entire film making fun of each other only to suddenly turn it into a romance at the very end. It’s poorly handled during the entire film and it’s just annoying after a while. I wouldn’t mind the insults so much if it wasn’t obvious that they were going to get together. As it stands, it’s just a little hard to watch. The film didn’t do a good job with the romance in general though. Eric and Sara’s plot is about as bad.
It follows the same formula so the writer must be a fan of it. Sara spends a lot of time insulting Eric for falling for a simple illusion and leaving her to die. She constantly says stuff like “We can’t be together” or “I’m through” only for the two characters to make up 10 minutes later to the point where we can get whole minutes of them making it up to each other. It was terrible and Eric’s overconfidence actually pays off in this case as he suspected they’d be back together.
As for the positives, the film’s action scenes kept getting better and better. Aside from the opening fight, we also got a battle with Ravenna and Freya. It was nice to see Ice vs vague Dark abilities and any fight with one of the Queens wrecking the heroes was cool as well. Ravenna really didn’t think any of this through though as she could have made it to the top if she didn’t insist on attacking Freya’s people. The film does make the villains a little overpowered though and the heroes really shouldn’t stand a chance. By merging with the mirror, Ravenna gained super strength, speed, and even high speed regeneration. Add to this the fact that she can manipulate the shadows to attack everyone around her and you have a fairly unbeatable enemy.
The effects for these action scenes were also very solid. The film definitely seemed to have a reasonably high budget and it’s easy to make fight scenes with large groups boring like in Warcraft, but this film pulled it off. It was actually a lot more interesting than the Snow White film and the core plot here is fairly solid. I would have liked to have seen Snow White show up herself to defend the kingdom, but I suppose she’s busy recovering from the evil mirror she had in her room. Again…that wasn’t a smart play.
Queen Ravenna is a great villain and probably the best character in the film. Her presence captures the room in every scene that she is in. Ravenna has the disposition of a final boss and when she showed up it was rather unexpected so that was great to see. Freya is essentially a more sinister version of Elsa. Her situation and backstory are fairly similar. Freya certainly didn’t take things as well though and became a total villain, but perhaps Elsa would have as well if her sister was evil. Freya did stand up for her wards in the end though and while her goals were a lot more extreme, at least she was trying to protect her people in her own way. She was a good villain as well.
I already talked about how bad the Dwarves were so lets ignore them. Eric isn’t a bad main character I suppose. Overconfidence is a good trait and he’s capable in a fight. He may be a little too dramatic at times, but he’s a solid lead. His one character flaw is the same with Sara’s, the romance angle. It was just unnecessary. Sara is very similar to Eric as she’s also overconfident and talks a good game. Unfortunately, she can’t back it up quite as well as she loses several times in the film. The one time she looked good was a moment where I have to question the power levels. Still, it happened so that was a good moment for her.
Okay, here’s the moment that I’m talking about. Some guys break into a bar to attack Eric. Eric talks pretty big the whole time as he’s forced into the fight and then he loses instantly. Luckily, Sara shows up and takes them all down. Okay…Sara must be way stronger than Eric then right? No, she never looks all that impressive again so you have to wonder what happened. The actual scene was pretty great though and the most epic part of the movie. The power levels may have been a little wacky, but I’ll take the hype.
Overall, The Winter War is a reasonably solid sequel that is held back by the romance and some annoying characters, but what else is new? Hollywood likes to throw in romance and some crude characters to get the ball rolling, but it tends to have to opposite effect. It’s a shame since the fight scenes actually are really good and the effects are top notch. If you check this film out, it’ll definitely be for the action. That being said, I simply can’t recommend it because of the film’s failings. If you want a better action film, check out the latest Tron film. That one has a lot of action and is heavily underrated.