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Film review The Huntsman: Winter’s War - Emily Blunt steals the show in fairytale prequel

Follow-up to Snow White and the Huntsman centres on Freya and Eric, the Huntsman she trains then turns on when he falls in love. It’s less maudlin than 2012, but slow-paced, and ending is mediocre

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 April, 2016, 5:01pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 April, 2016, 1:26pm

2.5/5 stars

Not since Frozen has there been so much on-screen ice as there is in The Huntsman: Winter’s War. It’s all thanks to Emily Blunt’s Freya, the blue-eyed villainess who spews it out like a broken fridge-freezer every time she gets angry (which is quite a lot). As silly as this all sounds, Blunt is one of the better aspects of this fairytale follow-up, a prequel-cum-sequel to 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman that wraps around its predecessor.

Freya, we learn, is the sister to Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron), the evil, mirror-dwelling mad-woman who was obliterated by Snow White and hunky Huntsman Eric (Chris Hemsworth) last time out. With Kristen Stewart’s Snow White absent, the story tells how Eric was trained as a Huntsman by Freya, embittered and torn apart after losing her baby. But when Eric falls for fellow Huntsman Sara (Jessica Chastain), Freya turns her icy powers against these nascent lovers.

Directed by first-timer Cedric Nicholas-Troyan, a visual effects supervisor on the first film, Winter’s War is less maudlin than its predecessor, largely thanks to the presence of four dwarves (Roy Brydon, Sheridan Smith, Alexandra Roach and the only returnee, Nick Frost). Their comic antics bring some much-needed levity, as the quartet wind up helping Eric and Sara, reunited after seven years, find the magic mirror before the power-grabbing Freya does.

While Hemsworth and Chastain’s Celtic accents don’t convince, the sluggishly paced action also tests your patience. Nicholas-Troyan does conjure some magical visuals, sprinkling the CGI fairy dust, and while Theron’s rampaging return as Ravenna is welcome, it’s not enough to save the third act from a rather mediocre conclusion. Happily ever after? Well, not quite.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War opens on April 7

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