This Snow White and the Huntsman sequel blends the original fairy-tales into one dark fantasy, promising fun, adventure and forbidden love
By Pamela Chow
Eric the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) develops a romantic bond with Jessica Chastain’s warrior character, Sara, against the law set by the Ice Queen.
You might have thought the world was rid of the evil queen in Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) but prepare for double the trouble.
Queen Ravenna’s estranged sister, Freya the Ice Queen — played by Emily Blunt of Sicario and The Devil Wears Prada — has emerged from her wintry palace, wielding the fearsome ability to freeze anyone who stands in her path.
Believing that her sister Ravenna (reprised by Charlize Theron from the first movie, and 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road) has been vanquished, Freya sets her sights on the powerful Magic Mirror. However, when Ravenna is resurrected, the wicked sisters wreak havoc on the enchanted land in a deadly power struggle.
Fans have described The Huntsman movies as a grown-up take on Disney’s Frozen. In fact, the two are based on “The Snow Queen” fairy-tale by Hans Christian Andersen. Characters from the Brothers Grimm’s “Snow White” also cross over into the story.
However, unlike in the animation Frozen, The Huntsman: Winter’s War promises more action-packed sequences interspersed with humour, intense sibling rivalry and a dash of forbidden love.
When the two villainous queens go to war, the banished huntsmen — led by Eric — must prevent either party from gaining power and devastating the land.
More heart, action and fun
Chris Hemsworth, who plays Eric the huntsman (as well as Norse god Thor in Marvel’s movies), shares that this sequel picks up the slack where Snow White and the Huntsman fell short.
Hemsworth said (as reported on cinemablend.com), “I loved it, but I felt like… [It needed a] sense of fun and adventure… There was a lack of [a] love story.”
This time, The Huntsman: Winter’s War has all of those, assured Hemsworth. His character develops a romantic bond with Jessica Chastain’s warrior character Sara, which was expressly forbidden by her ruler, Freya.
The Ice Queen may be chilly to her adversaries but actress Blunt has expressed her love for her fellow cast members. She said, half in jest, “Charlize and Chris are so shockingly beautiful that when they stood together it was like staring directly at the sun.”
The wicked sisters wreak havoc on the land in a war over the Magic Mirror. Emily Blunt stars as Ice Queen Freya (front), while Charlize Theron reprises the role of evil Queen Ravenna.
A villain you’ll love to hate
Although the movie places the tale of the titular huntsman at the fore, Blunt has emerged as the one to watch for her portrayal of Ice Queen Freya. Her commanding presence aided the depiction of the Ice Queen, who also employs deadly powers and a 36kg silver leather cape that “needed four people to put on”, recalled Blunt.
“There have been many Frozen comments,” Blunt admitted to The Telegraph. “I suppose I might be called Elsa by girls in the street, who are wondering why Elsa has become so mean,” she mused.
Some may even see this portrayal as a re-immergence of Blunt’s “acerbic British b*tch” character. Since her comically-prickly part in The Devil Wears Prada, Blunt has rejected all offers for such roles, she shared — until that of the Ice Queen.
Explaining why she made the exception for The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Blunt said, “I was really drawn to this strange, Mommy Dearest character, because I think very often you’re met with a villain in a film that you’re just supposed to accept for being this abhorrent person, whereas in Freya’s case you discover why she became who she is.”
Fighting alongside Eric is the brave warrior Sara, portrayed by Chastain.
An original fantasy
Winter’s War may be a sequel to the 2012 movie, but viewers can take it as a “relatively original star-powered fantasy”, writes Forbes contributor Scott Mendelson, due to how little it has to do with its predecessor.
Whether you’re a fan of Snow White and the Huntsman, Frozen or just looking for an exciting movie, it would certainly be intriguing to meet “mean Elsa” from the Snow Queen tale.
The Huntsman: Winter’s War [PG13]
Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt & Jessica Chastain
Genre: Fantasy, Action
Run length: 114 min
Release: 14 Apr
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of Weekender, Issue 150, April 15 – April 28, 2016, with the headline ‘Fairy-tales collide in Huntsman: Winter’s War’.