I saw The Huntsman: Winter’s War! I’m counting it as a loose book to film adaptation, as the concept was originally a retelling of the story of Snow White.
While the film has come under a lot of criticism, and there are some – shall we say shaky? – elements to it, I want to start by saying that I did definitely enjoy a lot of it.
There were some things in particular I thought this film did fantastically, and the first was the casting. Charlize Theron as Queen Ravenna is utterly terrifying, and although Chris Hemsworth’s face now has a lot of Marvel baggage to it, he did a great job as the Huntsman – to the extent that you could almost brush away the image of Thor. For me, though, the real star of the show was Emily Blunt. She brought a really thoughtful and nuanced ‘villain’ to life, and the way she portrayed the character as both damaged and powerful, vulnerable and untouchable, was a huge part of what made this film not-intolerable.
I also loved the British-isms in the language of the dwarves: they were humorous without being mocking, and I thought they were a nice – if not completely original – interpretation of the dwarf trope. My only confusion was about the accents of Eric and Sara: was that meant to be Scottish?
So the film was promising. It was also painfully derivative from the very start. Images from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe; The Golden Compass; and The Lord of the Rings were generously scattered throughout, and one of the main characters was a white-haired, blue-dressed girl with emotional baggage and ice powers, who ran away from her sister to build a ‘kingdom of isolation’…out of ice. Really, Universal Studios? Did you actually think anyone was over Frozen?
One critic for the Guardian wrote:
Now Snow White is awol, this dreary and incoherent CGI mashup of plots from Frozen, Narnia and The Incredibles really cannot justify its existence.
I wouldn’t have been so harsh; I personally didn’t pick up on The Incredibles vibes at all.
The last major thing that tainted this sequel for me was the complete absence of Snow White. Surely they should have found a replacement actress? Or…not made the movie at all? The subplot about the mirror causing problems for Snow White was fascinating, and could really have been developed.
Honestly, the mirror is one of my favourite things about these films. I think the design is stunning, and I love the dark – if completely unexplained – powers that surround it.
So to conclude: there’s a lot about The Huntsman that could have been wonderful. Unfortunately, it did end up a little bit like a messy and extravagant tour of high fantasy tropes.
To end on a positive note, did you know that one of the writers was called Evan Spliotopoulos? Now that’s a surname.
If you’ve seen the film too, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.