Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The Huntsman: Winter’s War is the Cheesy, Campy Escapism We All Need

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Let me start by saying this: The Huntsman: Winter’s War is not that great of a movie. I’m not 100% sure it’s even a good movie. But, y’all. It is a great frakkin’ movie.

In Case You Forgot…

Snow White and the Huntsman was a 2012 retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that no one really asked for. It was a “gritty reboot” with Snow White as a warrior chick who forcibly took her kingdom back from her evil stepmother, played by Charlize Theron at her most scenery-chewing.

Hemsworth was in it too. That’ll matter later.

I saw the movie in passing, and honestly it didn’t make much of an impression on me. I remember it being gray. Muddy and gray.

Then there was all the BS about Kristen Stewart and the director having an affair, and so when they decided to make a sequel she was out. Though of course everyone claimed that wasn’t why. I wasn’t really looking for a sequel, but that news annoyed me, so suddenly I cared enough to say I wouldn’t bother seeing it.

Oh silly, silly me.

What It’s About (doesn’t matter)

The Huntsman: Winter’s War brings back Chris Hemsworth as the titular Huntsman, and Charlize Theron as the scenery-chewing evil queen.

Do me a favor and count the number of dudes v. ladies on this poster.

New additions are Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain, as well as a whole lot less gray. At least as far as I remember.

It starts before the events in Snow White. Emily and Charlize are sisters, and Charlize murders her husband the king to become sole monarch. She also encourages her sister to discover her magic powers, but Emily is in love with Merlin (not, like, literally; it’s Colin Morgan) and content to be pregnant and happy.

Problem is Merlin’s engaged, and the engagement can’t be broken. But Emily is confident! Love will win out! Charlize poopoos that idea and tells her love’s a sucker’s game.

Emily has her baby, and Merlin sends her a note asking her to meet him in the garden. He’s a no-show, and a fire breaks out in the castle: the baby DIES and apparently MERLIN DID IT.

Needless to say, that makes Emily very, very unhappy. Basically she flips her shit, finds her powers, and turns into the Snow Queen. It’s like “Let it Go,” but less empowering and more revenge-driven.

It’s kind of empowering.

Elsa-Em moves away and starts her own kingdom in the far north. She conquers all the neighboring kingdoms and kidnaps their kids to train them for her own personal army. Her Huntsmen. The one rule: never ever fall in love.

Flash forward about 10 years. Hemsworth and Chastain are all grown up and, duh, in love. They make plans to run away, but Elsa-Emily catches them and makes them fight their fellow Huntsmen. She puts a big wall of ice between them, and Hemsworth sees one of their comrades kill the hell out of Jessica. Boy was I pissed; we were like 20 minutes into the movie!!

The movie flashes forward now to after the events in Snow White. Some people called that confusing, but they were pretty clear about it. Whatever.

Snow White has her kingdom. She’s married to Finnick Odair. But all is not well in Fantasyland: apparently the magic mirror Charlize had is whispering nasty things to Queen Snow and making her crazy. Soldiers are ordered to take it far, far away, but they’re ambushed on the road and the mirror is stolen.

Finnick asks Hemsworth to get it back as a favor to his old friend Snow, and also because it’s super duper dangerous and can’t be floatin’ around out there. He agrees, and he and his two buddies (the only other dudes in the movie, comic relief sidekick types) set off on A Quest.

“I really am ruggedly handsome!”

Along the way they get jumped by a bunch of dudes, and a mysterious black-clad stranger kicks EVERYone’s ass and saves the day. Oh shit it’s Jessica! Not dead!! Also super duper pissed at Hemsworth like WOW.

“You’re not that handsome.”

Apparently in Elsa-Em’s Mirror of Erised/ice wall, Jessica saw Hemsworth turn tail and run the second things got sticky. He saw her die, but she saw him straight up peace out without a goodbye or ANYTHING. She’s spent the last few years nursing the grudge.

They get captured by some dwarf ladies who then agree to help them find the evil queen’s mirror. There’s a whole thing with trolls, and Hemsworth gets all heroic and tells everyone to leave him behind, but Jess uses her mad archery skillz and blows the trolls sky high (apparently their blood is combustible). Anyway they make up and have a real good night but the next day Elsa-Em shows up and things go downhill.

“My other sis Jadis said y’all’d be here.”

Jess apparently was working for Elsa-Em the whole time, and now Emily has the mirror back. Aaaaand guess who’s frozen inside it? Charlize! Ready to chew scenery like a BOSS! Apparently she enchanted Merlin to kill the baby because the mirror told her that her sister’s baby would one day be the fairest. That’s shitty.

She pops out of the mirror and orders Em’s Huntsmen to prepare for war, which doesn’t make Emily too happy because duh this is her kingdom?? Not Charlize’s?? Meanwhile Hemsworth sneaks into the castle and he and Jess reunite. Emily throws up another big ice wall to separate her and her sister from the Huntsmen, and there’s fighting…look, this doesn’t really matter that much.

This matters. The rest doesn’t.

In the end Emily turns on her sister, Jess destroys the mirror, Jess and Hemsworth kiss, Emily and Charlize die, and basically everyone lives happily ever. Got it? Okay.

That Sounds Lame…

I told you it was lame. I said in the title it was cheesy and campy.

So why is this movie so damn good? Oh, y’all. Do I need to remind you of the poster?

Here it is. Just in case.

This is an adventure movie. There’s fighting and battles and creatures and magic…so this should be a dude thing, right? A total schlong fest? Sure, of course it should, in usual Hollywood thinking.

But it’s not!!

Not only do you have Emily and Charlize, but also Jessica. I cannot say enough about Jessica Chastain in this movie. She could’ve been given more to do (as could Emily; she was scandalously underutilized), but what she did knocked my gay little socks off.

Here she is blowing up trolls.

She was badass. She was tough. She also fell in love with the “hero” and it didn’t make her any less tough or awesome or badass.

This is the type of movie I would’ve loved unreservedly as a kid, and normally I would’ve wanted a female character I could relate to. Someone to be “me,” so to speak. With the exception of Labyrinth, most of the fantasy/adventure type movies I loved as a kid (Willow springs to mind) were woefully understaffed with kick-ass ladies. This movie has a whole handful to choose from.


In addition to the main three, there are the two female dwarfs who kidnap Our Heroes; they’re the other half of the comic relief sidekick equation, but they’re also greedy greedy thieves, which I love. Like they could’ve been the “angelic feminine” counterpoint to the vulgar male dwarfs, but they weren’t.


SO! Watch this cheesy-ass cheese-fest of a movie! Celebrate kick-ass ladies actually kicking ass! Check out Hemsworth because he really is ruggedly handsome, and he makes nice eye candy.

It bombed at the box office, but was anyone really asking for the sequel to a movie no one asked for in the first place? Nah, not really. Also the bad press probably didn’t help any. Plus I mean fantasy movies tend to not do that well ANYway…sadly…

It’s rated PG-13, so if you know any young girls who, like kid-me, love fantasy adventure type flicks, show them this. The PG-13 is because of half a boob and a little bit of violence, so use your discretion age-wise, but seriously. Young Me would’ve been so heart-eyes over this damn movie it’s not even funny. Cheesy, campy, perfection.


Images curtesy of Universal Pictures

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