The Huntman: Winter’s War is the story of what happened to the character played by Chris Hemsworth before 2012’s Snow White. And also some stuff that happens afterwards for some reason.
Let’s be straight for a minute, the plot here doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. There are two magical ladies, played by Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron, who are mostly up to no good, with Blunt’s character seemingly ripped from a darker cut of Frozen.
Then there’s also Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain, two warriors who work for the ice queen and also fancy eachother. Things happen in their relationship and there’s a time jump of seven years which zips past the events of Snow White, neatly avoiding the need to include Kristen Stewart.
Which is fine – quite apart from her personal relationships (because who cares really?) she was by far the worst thing in the first film. Instead we get to spend more time with Hemsworth’s charming axe man and a bevy of talented and beautiful women.
Apart from the batty narrative it’s all decent enough fun. The fantasy stuff is suitably attractive and effectively weird, and there’s a nice focus on physical effects. There’s also a curiously coarse sense of humour running through the whole thing which sets it apart from most other fantasy efforts, with performers like Nick Frost and Rob Brydon given the chance to do pretty much whatever they want.
The design is easily the star of the show, from the fabulous sets to the details of the effects – I especially liked how Blunt’s ice powers materialise like a timelapse of textured crystals. And then there are the costumes, with these gorgeous people attired in capes and gowns and gold and silver and all manner of spikes that are oozing with style. Props to the work of multiple Oscar winner Coleen Atwood (Alice in Wonderland).
The actors all do their stuff, with Hemsworth looking a little bored and Chastain caged by an utterly appalling accent. Is it Irish? Welsh? Why can’t she just be English?! The dwarven characters are entertaining and Blunt is always watchable, while Theron cackles her way through the scenery.
It’s utter nonsense, and there’s a rather low budget feel to the on location work and the much smaller scale but I found it all pretty entertaining, especially given the lack of fantasy fare available these days. So head along, have a chuckle and marvel at the costumes and just how well these finely built people fit into them.