Once upon a time gender roles weren’t accurately portrayed in Hollywood. “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” reminds us of those darker times, not only by bringing back these cringeworthy stereotypes, but also by regurgitating a worn-out theme.
Essentially, the insanely predictable narrative tries to emphasize how love conquers all. Sticking to tradition, an overly optimistic sounding narrator introduces us to two sisters, the evil queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron, “Mad Max: Fury Road”) and her nicer (but not nice) sister, Freya (Emily Blunt, “Sicario”). After a series of unfortunate events, Freya deserts her homeland to start her own kingdom, founded on the idea that loving is a sin. But, of course, two of her citizens, Eric (Chris Hemsworth, “Avengers: Age of Ultron”) and Sara (Jessica Chastain, “The Martian”), fell deeply in love and formulate a plan to escape. Freya manages to separate them, but the couple inevitably reunites seven years later. Then, Eric, now a soldier in Snow White’s kingdom, is tasked with finding Ravenna’s powerful mirror before Freya does. To enhance the talent of his dream team, Eric permits four bumbling trolls to accompany him and Sara on their journey. All of the tension built up throughout the film culminates in Freya’s castle, though mostly everyone still manages to live happily ever after in the end.
Sadly, “The Hunstman: Winter’s War” fails to offer anything new to the fairytale genre. Sara’s middle name might as well be Katniss, as she annoyingly emphasizes that she “never misses” with her bow and arrow at every opportunity. Katniss and Sara also share the unappealing quality of acting like a femme fatale one moment and a hopeless damsel in distress the next. As well there’s no question that Freya is the non-animated version of Elsa from “Frozen.” Both possess the ability to turn anything into an ice sculpture, (a power that stems from the coldness of their hearts.) Even the costuming is similar — both flaunt extravagant dresses that tinkle as they stride across their frozen fortresses. At least Elsa can release her overly exaggerated emotions by breaking into song — Blunt expresses her feelings through excessive whines and screeches.
Chris Hemsworth’s performance confirms why few people regard the Huntsman as a remarkable hero. Hemsworth ferociously tears off Blunt’s clothes during their countless make out scenes, portraying the false idea that in an ideal relationship, the man is allowed to literally and figuratively strip her of all she has. Not only is it hard to comprehend why he carries out most of his actions in the way that he does, it’s often difficult to discern what exactly Hemsworth is saying because of his accent, which strangely wasn’t an issue in any of the “Avengers” movies.
Even in this type of fantasy movie, there is a fine line between acceptably unreal and downright bizarre. Somehow the film manages to avoid crossing this line until the final duel between the two sisters. When Ravenna loses all control of her emotions, a disgusting black goo oozes from her mouth. As it drips off her teeth and splatters down her chin, she appears appear more like a bloodthirsty vampire than enraged queen. We’re made well aware that Freya is fully enraged when her pupils are replaced with glowing white spheres. While this is slightly less frightening, its strangeness is incredibly uncomfortable.
The dialogue throughout the entire film encourages an insane number of facepalms, but the award for worst banter goes to the dumb exchanges between Nion (Nick Frost, “Shaun of the Dead”) and Doreena (Alexandra Roach, “The Iron Lady”), the troll couple that can only be identified by their robustness and stupidity. Instead of achieving the intended wit by being clever, their conversation draws laughs because of its pathetic reliance on the liberal usage of contemporary double entendre. As the two paddle their canoe, which has deeper sexual implications in itself, Doreena remarks that she has suddenly become very thirsty. She then turns around when Nion comments that running also makes him thirsty. They then proceed to discuss how the saltiness of certain foods also increases their levels of thirst. When Doreena faces forward again, the smile we all know indicates she’s getting laid tonight creeps across her face.
Unlike these two bumbling trolls, my love life hasn’t been so promising lately. And while I’d like to make my enemies suffer, I’m not evil enough to cast a spell that would force them to sit through this deplorable film.