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The Huntsman: Winter’s War – An Enchanting Dark and Romantic Fairytale


The Huntsman: Winter’s War

Four years, multiple story revisions and casting rumors later, the follow-up to 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman (or SWATH as it’s commonly referred to) is finally here. The characters who returned for the sequel treat us to quite a journey that takes place in the same world as its predecessor. Or at least it’s a return to the same world for our titular character (played to perfection by the rugged Chris Hemsworth). High fantasy lovers will be delighted as the production qualities are, in my opinion, off the charts good.

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A narrator opens the story, telling us a tale of two sisters. One of them, Ravenna (Charlize Theron) marries into and then conquers kingdoms (following the deaths of her many lovers) regularly. Her cold heart is closed off to love, and her fixation on power and beauty demands her heart stay this way. Her sister, Freya (Emily Blunt) is the opposite. Happily in love and carrying a child, Freya’s own heart is eventually turned to stone when her lover kills their infant daughter. Sent to a remote kingdom, there Freya captures all of the village children and raises them as elite huntsmen. There’s only one rule: they must not open their hearts to love. When her two best huntsman – Eric (Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain), break this rule, a dangerous series of events fall into place.

Seven years later, Eric has lost Sara (at Freya’s hand) and helped Snow White take back her kingdom during which time, together, they vanquished Ravenna. But as an old foe rises again to threaten Snow’s kingdom, Eric’s loyalty to his Queen is again needed. As he begins a new quest, he comes face-to-face with ghosts of the past; first Sara and later, the fearsome Ravenna.

If you weren’t a fan of Snow White and the Huntsman, then The Huntsman: Winter’s War isn’t likely to be your cup of tea. Step inside this film and you’ll encounter the same kind of world, even still there are eccentricities that allow “Winter’s War” its own unique DNA. At its most basic this is a medieval fairy tale with contemporary influences. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my trips to the box office, it’s this: if the critics bash something I’m eager to see, chances are, I’ll walk away having discovered a new favorite cinematic masterpiece. That same effect is true of this film. The Huntsman is a complex and intricate fairytale bursting with dark enchantments and gorgeous details. It’s a fun way to kick off the summer box office adventures.

The Huntsman

When the promotional material was first released, I’ll confess, I was confused. I didn’t know if this was a sequel or prequel, the latter being what I felt the promotion might have been suggesting. Add in the fact that Kristen Stewart’s Snow White (Sam Claflin briefly reprises his role) was to be absent, and I was all the more convinced. If you’re anything like me (who isn’t all that fond of going back in time when you’ve already experienced the future), I’m clarifying that The Huntsman is a unified balancing act (done well) of playing both sides to one story. “Part one” shows us how Eric came to be The Huntsman before act two transitions into the events following Snow White and the Huntsman. If you liked the romantic teasers in that film, then the direction this story takes might disappoint.

Shifting to the production, “Winter’s War” is breathtaking down to the final detail. Colleen Atwood’s (Alice in Wonderland, Into The Woods, and even Arrow) costume design further enforces why she’s an Oscar winner; the details and unique designs are stunning. This theme is carried through every production aspect, from the lush detail-inspired forest, Snow White and the Huntsman is the humor; it runs throughout this script (co-written by Evan Spiliotopoulos, one of the upcoming live-action Beauty and the Beast’s screenwriters), offering plenty of levity and room to breathe amidst the darker throes of magic.

The Huntsman

Given the new Director and screenwriters, this film does take on a vastly different feel. I could go on about things I liked, including how the story is ultimately written (the method in which the evil is vanquished which ties into the story arc that is about these two sisters), the cast (I always welcome the chance to see Aussie Chris Hemsworth in a leading role), the elves (who were hilarious!) or the production qualities, but I won’t. As the narrator closes this story saying, all good fairytales never really end, and I feel it prudent to follow his advice and end with this: if you like fairytales, give The Huntsman a fair chance. It’s a delightful mixture of genres, which is what makes it such fun.

If you were a fan of films like Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters or Mirror Mirror, you’re likely going to enjoy The Huntsman.

Content warning: The Huntsman has a smattering more “adult” content than Snow White and the Huntsman. There are two love-making scenes; one involves a couple naked (implied) swimming and passionately kissing, the other has them kissing while undressing one another (they remove their shirts) and barely avoided upper female nudity before the camera cuts away. There is plenty of fantasy violence scattered throughout. The film is rated PG-13.

Photos: Universal Pictures


Five Corset Rating Lower Byte Size

“The stuff that dreams are made of.”


four heart rating

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My

feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me

to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”



Want more fairytale adaptations? Read through our list of Ten Magical Snow White Adaptations in Film and Television; read our reviews of Disney’s live-action Cinderella or the fantasy film, Seventh Son!

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By on April 26th, 2016

About Rissi JC

Rissi is a self-diagnosed Bookaholic and TV fandom addict. She’s currently an avid blogger and reader who enjoys interacting with readers, and often dreams about finishing her first novel. When not writing or reading, she can be found working as an INSPYs advisory board member or contributing to e-zines. Her scribbles are housed on her blog Finding Wonderland (https://www.rissiwrites.com).

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12 thoughts on “The Huntsman: Winter’s War – An Enchanting Dark and Romantic Fairytale”

  1. I didn’t think I’d like this film (wasn’t mad about Snow White) but I really enjoyed it. The dwarfs were brilliant. And Chris Hemsworth, but that goes without saying 🙂

    • Weren’t the dwarfs hilarious!? I really liked that part of the film, and am so glad to know you enjoyed this one, Suz! I’m looking forward to rewatching SWATH when “The Huntsman” comes to DVD, and yes! I agree; Chris Hemsworth makes any movie awesome. 😀

  2. I admit to being in the group that liked the romance angle in the first film. 🙂 And as I thought this was a prequel, hearing that it’s actually a sequel is disappointing. I admit I was already annoyed Snow White wasn’t going to be in the sequel. It just seems like a very Hollywood move to remove the female character and have the male character become the lead instead. SIGH. I am glad to hear that it’s actually a decent movie though! But I’ll probably wait for this one on video since I can’t stand sequels that undo what was presented in a story before. So my dislike is purely prejudicial against the fact that they’re not following through on the story I was invested in! Not to mention the sexist move to remove Kristen Stewart. Great review though. 🙂 I often disagree with critics too.

    • Oh dear. I think my liking of this film was ‘because’ they’d removed Kristen Stewart.
      *slinks away and hides in a corner before anyone starts to throw things at me*

        • Amber: great thoughts! I appreciate you sharing your opinions of the move filmmakers made to remove Stewart. I’d have really liked to see her in this one BECAUSE I was (probably) one of the few who liked the break-away-from-the-mold romance in SWATH. However, I don’t much miss Stewart (but miss the character) since she isn’t my favorite actress. That being said (yep, being contradictory here), the more I watched SWATH (it’s been a while now), the more she did grow on me. 🙂 The good news is, all of the women in “The Huntsman” are quick fierce, and sassy.

          Suz: I’m more of your mindset. I do miss Snow White, but since K-Stew isn’t my most favorite character, I don’t mind her absence. Or that’s my current thought. 🙂

          • I think the romance was more popular than people might think! 🙂 I personally believe anything Kristen Stewart related is usually derided in popular conversation but privately more people were into this film than perhaps people realized or even admitted to. Snow White and the Huntsman was a huge success. This sequel, on the other hand, is not. Kristen Stewart was part of that success whether one likes her or not! Truth is, she still has a huge fan base. And the romance angle was intriguing. Not to mention the obvious influence of mixing Snow White with Joan of Arc. It was a story that ended with a question. What’s next for Snow White and the Huntsman? Dropping it was probably not the smartest move on their parts – money wise – even if I’m sure there will be an audience who likes the changes! It clearly still sounds like a very entertaining film!

            However, looking beyond acting preferences, I still think it was a mistake to drop Snow White as the protagonist! Even if they were to replace Snow White that would have been better than dropping the character of Snow White in a movie about her.

            Apparently, the sequel is a big box office failure and the studio is blaming it on “fairy tales” not being popular enough. So they are now dropping future plans to make more fairy tale films which is a real shame. This could have been prevented by simple foresight. Common sense says you don’t cut Snow White from a film about Snow White and expect it to succeed. And you don’t take a female driven fairy tale and make the main character a guy! And you don’t get rid of the actress that probably helped draw an audience to the film in the first place. That’s from an objective standpoint rather than a subjective one about her acting.

            Speaking again completely from my perspective – it’s not fairy tales or even the film that’s to blame for it’s commercial failure. It could be the best written film of all time and would have still failed. It’s that they removed Snow White from a story about Snow White. Plus, they didn’t follow through with the original story presented. That’s not going to sit well with a large portion of the audience!

            That all said, I’m sure I will still enjoy this movie – once I get past being annoyed. Haha! When it comes to sexism in Hollywood I can talk all day, so don’t mind me!

          • Thanks so much for sharing all of this, Amber! I really enjoy reading your comment/thoughts. I’d forgotten SWATH did so well in theaters though I’m sure I had read about it once upon a time.

            I’m glad the romance was more popular that I think; it was a nice “twist” to the story. Anytime a fairytale is remade, it’s fun to see what changes the writer’s make to form it into their own version.

            It’s really sad that this one didn’t do better if it’s going to inspire the studio to stay away from fairy tales. That’s uncool. And I don’t believe the excuse that fairy tales are unpopular – I think they’re more popular than ever right now. This series was originally meant to be a trio (I think…) and we can definitely be assured THAT won’t happen. *sigh*

            Like I said, K-Stew DID grow on me each time I re-watched SWATH, and I’d have liked to see her return as Snow White (plus I agree, she does have an audience).

            If you watch this as a fun fantasy flick (this is how I viewed it, even if it does come off a little ridiculous sometimes), then you’re bound to enjoy this! I thought it was very well done but do concede, it probably tried a just a little too hard to distance itself from SWATH after the controversy surrounding that film. Either way, I was sad this did depart from the romantic story threads in SWATH, but overall, I 100% LOVED this film and will certainly enjoy it as a fun little fairy tale when I need a pick-me-up kind of movie with an edge. 🙂

      • I would never throw things! 🙂 I personally don’t have a problem with Stewart but I understand she isn’t every one’s favorite. She has an unusual acting style that seems to be hit or miss with the audience.


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