Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

'Winter's War' an Improvement, but That's Not Saying Much

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

'Winter's War' an Improvement, but That's Not Saying Much

Article excerpt

MOVIE REVIEW

And here arrives Hollywood's most unlikely, unanticipated sequel.

"Snow White and the Huntsman" was an execrable piece of garbage, mindless churning of mythology with a heavy ladling of flashy CGI sauce. But it conjured up a cauldron full of money - nearly $400 million. So a follow-up became inevitable.

Then star Kristen Stewart was revealed to have dallied with the very married first-time director. Both were promptly given the boot. So how to make a Snow White sequel without Snow White, and give the (unnecessary) male sidekick the spotlight?

Apparently, you give the special effects supervisor from the last film, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, his own rookie shot in the director's chair, order up a script from a pair of journeymen screenwriters (Evan Spiliotopoulos and Craig Mazin) and put the whole thing on a hurry-up production schedule of 12 months from start of shooting to release - extraordinarily short for a big-budget spectacle with lots of computerized imagery.

Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, right?

Here's the funny thing: "The Huntsman: Winter's War" is actually an improvement on the original. Which isn't to say it's a great film, or even a good one. But it's a breezily entertaining piece of escapist claptrap, breathed to life by some fine actors who make a brave go of some awkward dialogue and plotting.

And Emily Blunt shines as Freya, the ice queen and sister to Ravenna (Charlize Theron), who was undone by Snow White. In an affecting opening sequence set years before the first movie, we witness her tragedy and transformation into a withdrawn, super- powered mistress who steals children and turns them into her army of huntsmen to conquer all the lands of the north.

This was how Eric, aka The Huntsman, came to be. He rebelled against Freya's edict on showing love by falling for Sara (Jessica Chastain), another unwilling recruit. …

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