David and I missed "Snow White and the Huntsman" (2012), but decided to take in "The Huntsman: Winter's Wars" because of Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain. I am decidedly exhausted by all of the prequels/sequels which make up stories to prolong the life of a once-loved fairy tale.


Written by Evan Spiliotopoulos, Craig Mazin and Evan Daugherty, who also co-wrote and was responsible for the screen story of "Snow White and the Huntsman", "The Huntsman: Winter's Wars" would be an utter loss without its talented cast and special/visual effects crew.


Charlize Theron returns as Ravenna, the evil queen and sister to Freya (Blunt). When Freya is betrayed by her lover, she takes leave of Ravenna and travels north to establish a frozen queendom of her own.


Queen Freya has forbidden love of any kind to be recognized under her reign, but two of her prodigies, Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Chastain), have fallen for each other and defy Freya's command. When they are caught, Freya connives to make Eric and Sara believe the other is dead or forgotten. But both Ravenna's and Freya's quest to retrieve the precious mirror, now banished from Snow White's kingdom, brings all of these players together again for one last battle of good vs evil.


"The Huntsman: Winter's Wars" can be considered mildly entertaining if for no other reason than the spectacular special and visual effects. Watching Freya arrive with her army riding sidesaddle on a giant white beast has been done before, and probably better. The more pleasing art comes in the scenes involving the fight amongst Ravenna, Freya, Eric and Sara. Ravenna's shattering gold is electrifying, along with Freya's icing abilities.


The movie is beautifully filmed by Phedon Papamichael and the costumes by Colleen Atwood are exquisite. Theron, in a gorgeous blue number, is absolutely stunning.


Unfortunately, it's the writing which fails. A terrific cast, including Theron, Blunt and Chastain can only do so much with what they're given --- and they all try mightily. They are three of the best actresses in the industry, and it's so frustrating to watch their talents squandered, along with Hemsworth's.


Nick Frost, Rob Brydon, two huge favorites of mine, Sheridan Smith and Alexander Roach all portray dwarves, who accompany Eric and Sara on their mission to find and destroy the mirror. They provide much of the comic relief, and though delightful at times, their banter could have been much improved.


Director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan is better known for his visual effects work, which explains the superb look of "The Huntsman: Winter's Wars". But to produce a successful film, one needs more than just a pretty face. And scarily, another follow-up to this is hinted at the end. Enough is enough ---


Opinion: Wait for DVD





As Jeanne mentions, we missed the first offering in this series entitled "Snow White and the Huntsman", but it doesn't matter. This sequel can stand on its own merit, however limited that may be. Kristen Stewart who played Snow White in the first film, is gone.


Now we have Emily Blunt as Queen Freya, who might be called the frost queen because she can create ice formations in an instant if she needs to quell foes. Also on board is Jessica Chastain as Sara, a female huntsman, who teams with Chris Hemsworth as the title character, also known as Eric. Chastain and Hemsworth portray lovers in a volatile relationship, and their bantering is one of the movie's better features. Blunt and Chastain, both consummate performers, are welcome additions for French director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, making his feature film debut.


My favorite characters are played by Nick Frost (Nion) and Rob Brydon (Gryff) who portray dwarves with allegiance to the huntsman. Neither of the actors is actually diminutive, so both are shown in CG, with convincing results. A spokesperson for little people likened this special effect to white actors smearing themselves with greasepaint to play black roles.


Frost is well known as Simon Pegg's sidekick in a variety of films, and Brydon is best known for pairing with Steve Coogan in "The Trip", and its sequel, "The Trip to Italy", both delightful dialogue-driven comedies. As brothers in "The Huntsman: Winter's Wars", they are droll and diverting. And the two dwarf women with whom they become entangled --- Doreena (Alexandra Roach) and Mrs. Bromwyn (Sheridan Smith) are equally amusing. Smith, in particular, is terrific as the spunky Mrs. Bromwyn, who purports to want nothing to do with Gryff.


Charlize Theron returns as the evil Ravenna, and if it weren't for the superior special effects, Theron's appearance would almost be an afterthought. "Mad Max: Fury Road" notwithstanding, it's time for Theron to return to roles that befit her substantial talent.


"The Huntsman: Winter's Wars" is reasonably entertaining, but it's a shame they couldn't find a better looking actor than Hemsworth to play the hunky huntsman. Just kidding on that note, of course, since he actually is God's gift to women --- an opinion shared by Jeanne, among others. And it appears that this franchise is not finished, given the broad hint at the end,  of yet another "Huntsman" to come.


Opinion: Wait for DVD