This is one of those movies where if you don’t expect much, you won’t be disappointed. You just ain’t gonna be impressed with any of it, either. It’s more of a pre/sequel; the first act of the movie takes place prior to Snow White and gives a little- and only a little- more backstory to Charlize Theron’s Ravenna, but only to provide her with a sister to advance the plot.
Ravenna & Freya are sisters. Ravenna does her thing- marrying the king & killing him- and becomes queen. Freya starts makes eyes- and more- at some young stud, to Ravenna’s dismay, because Freya hasn’t come into her power yet: all the women in their bloodline have magic, it just needs to be awakened somehow. Probably by something traumatic. *cue thunderclap*
Freya’s pregnant but he’s already contracted to marry someone else. Ravenna gets the bad news from the mirror that Freya’s baby will grow up to usurp her, unless… The child is born and the father agrees to meet up with Freya at the castle so they can run off together. Tragedy ensues; Freya’s power awakens and she hardens her heart against love and takes her retinue north. Her master plan is to capture (save) all children from the evils of the world by raiding the villages and raising them up into elite warriors (Huntsmen) to create her empire. Lather, rinse, repeat. There’s only one Rule: No One Can Love.
Eric & Sara- along with their token black friend- are part of the same batch of Huntsmen. Eric & Sara’s blossoming relationship doesn’t go unnoticed and Freya uses her magic and their fellow Huntsmen to stop them. Believing Sara dead and left for dead himself, Eric eventually ends up in the first movie.
Seven years after Ravenna’s defeat (seven years bad luck- get it?), Freya wants the mirror for herself. The mirror’s magic is affecting poor Snow White’s mind, so she sends it off to Sanctuary- the magic forest from the first movie- for safekeeping, but it never makes it there. Eric, along with a pair of dwarves, is tasked with finding it and completing the job before Freya can get her hands on it. Sara, now estranged from Eric, intercepts them and joins the mission to retrieve the mirror. But what happens when they find it is beyond what anyone expected.
Says a lot when you have to combine two different stories to make a script for a sequel movie. And it’s a sequel almost in name only: Snow White has next to nothing to do with the plot- not that there was much left to that angle- and only gets a few mentions before being completely forgotten.
The main problem, of course, is the script: dull and unimaginative. Given the storyline there was a lot more they could’ve done with it, especially with the plot hinges upon raising up scores of children to eschew any kind of love, including camaraderie, and having them embrace it in the end. You could tell this was how it would go, but it would’ve helped to at least lay the groundwork for it with a couple of bonding scenes- in the cages after being captured, surviving their training, etc- instead of resorting to long, mournful, searing glances and looks before the next action sequence.
Hemsworth was going through the motions; he did what he could, but there wasn’t much to work with here and he started looking bored with it all. Poor guy’s still looking for his breakout role; only performance more uninspired than his was Gerard Butler’s in Gods of Egypt.
Emily Blunt’s Ice Queen is a good way to sum up her performance. She’s pretty bland and lifeless; I get that it’s a reflection of her character’s emotional/mental state, but it doesn’t help in an already bland and lifeless movie.
Jessica Chastain as Sara was ok, but I kept seeing her as Merida from Brave, especially since she’s a redhead, used a bow and spoke in an over the top brogue. So did Hemsworth’s Eric… and just about every other “commoner” in the movie, now that I think about it.
Charlize Theron’s screentime was too little and almost too late. Her reappearance sets the third act in motion and like I said- there’s no surprises here; you already know how it’s gonna play out. She still makes it fun, though, and has some good lines and a little characterization thrown in. I also liked her fight animations in the finale; those tendrils looked pretty nasty.
The juxtaposition between Raveena and Freya was ok, although ridiculously obvious: Ravenna’s gold & black themed heat, passion & greed vs Freya’s blue & white themed cold, sorrow & indifference. Got it. Cinematograpy was good; still think those fairies and pixies were overdone and out of place in such a muddy, mundane world. The goblins were literally just touched-up gorillas and the fight with them in the forest (jungle) felt way too much like it was lifted from a Tarzan movie or something. Not in a racial sense, just plain lazy writing.
The dwarves, as stock comic relief, were actually pretty funny- their banter made for some of the better parts of the movie. And that’s a shame.
There’s not much to say here. Overall, you’re left wondering what the point of this movie even was. It doesn’t do anything for you, was wholly predictable and pretty much just there the whole time. Hollywood loves trilogies, so thankfully there’s only one more to go in the franchise. In the meantime, save this for Netflix on a rainy day in.