The Huntsman: Winter's War (2016)

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Winter is Unfortunately Coming

Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Running Time: 114 Minutes
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain, Nick Frost, Rob Brydon, Sheridan Smith, Alexandra Roach

By the time this Snow White and The Huntsman spin-off reaches its end, one is left wondering if something stronger could have been made, minus the connections to its predecessor.

After the defeat of Queen Ravenna, Eric the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) sets out on a mission to ensure her Magic Mirror does not fall into the wrong hands. These hands belonging to Freya (Emily Blunt), the Queen who raised Eric and his ill-fated wife, Sara (Jessica Chastain). Bearing the title of Ice Queen not just for show, with a heart as cold as her powers, she is also sister of Ravenna (Charlize Theron).

The strains on the picture are clear whenever tenuous links are made, be it finding a way around Kristen Stewart not returning, or finding a convoluted reason to bring back Charlize Theron. That isn't to say the actress' inclusion hinders the picture, as she clearly relishes her villainous role. In fact, the film's at its most interesting whenever she shares the screen with on-screen sister Emily Blunt, as the two give a much needed spark that's missing elsewhere.

Returning cast member Chris Hemsworth and new addition Jessica Chastain can be considered reliable actors, but in regards to this picture, their jarring accents take precedence over their performances. It doesn't help they're stuck with a half-baked love story done better in multiple other films. Nick Frost and Rob Brydon bring support as Dwarves, serving little purpose than to act as vessels for comedy, only to miserably fail.

Having previously worked on visual effects, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan makes his directorial debut here. With experience on Maleficent and Snow White and the Huntsman, it makes sense the visuals work well in regards to the sets, as opposed to the CG creatures, which are noticeably fake. The scenes of action are rather unimpressive, with the shaky cam not helping things.

As far as forced spin-off's go, the final result could have been worse. It can at least be said that The Huntsman: Winter's War is a visually competent picture, but the failure to escape the weak material is evident.

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