Thursday, April 21, 2016

I saw the Huntsman's Winter War...

The notion of giving a fairy tale a masculine makeover is rather appealing if you're a guy, or simply one into action/adventure storytelling. Such a transformation proved most successful in Rupert Sanders' "Snow White and the Huntsman". That Eric the Huntsman happened to be portrayed by Chris "Thor" Hemsworth further sealed the virile deal.

It only reasoned that a follow-up would occur, but a quasi-prequel/sequel? Now, that was a tad unexpected, but for all intents and purposes, the essence that made the 2012 epic a hit remains intact in director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan's Brothers Grimm/Hans Christian Anderson inspired chapter, "The Huntsman: Winter's War", and yes, Hemsworth's return works greatly in its favor. In fact, one might argue, if not for Hemsworth, what would be the point?

Nevertheless, Charlize Theron also returns as the sadistic, shape-shifting Queen Ravena, once more anxious of another eclipsing her beauty (like she'd really have to fret), but instead of Kristen Stewart's enchanting Snow White, the competition comes in a prelude, featuring Ravena's sister, Freya, played with chilling pathos by Emily Blunt. 

In this lead-in, the "Mirror, Mirror" entity (Christopher Obi) informs Ravena that Freya's child will rival her beauty, and so the offspring is killed through Ravena's influence and by the hand of Freya's fiance (Colin Morgan). This horrid act turns Freya into a contemptuous, snow-blowing Ice Queen and one who'll spitefully recruit children throughout the land, including young Eric and Sara (Jessica Chastain), to be groomed as her protecting pawns. 

To keep Eric a sympathetic warrior, Craig Mazin and Evan Spiliotopoulos' script treats us to various aspects of his arduous days, both before and after his Snow White jaunt. Chastain's Sara figures into this path, underscoring the heroism and woe, for we know that, regardless of her diligence and conviction, hardship awaits them both. 

Watching the couple's bumpy bond is touching and by good grace, never tart; it also sparks an early defiant streak, since Freya disrupts their love. To remind us of the importance of amorous ties, Snow White's Prince Charming (Sam Claflin) materializes for a time, and another dwarf group joins the crusade (Rob Brydon; Alexandra Roach; Sheridan Smith; and Nick Frost, reprising his role), who spawn their own burgeoning loves. Nonetheless, throughout their journey, they stay steadfast to prevent evil's spread, knowing that the warring sisters will continue to wage their contempt on love, freedom and all things good and kind. (It really comes down to which witch is worse.) 

Such gallantry inspires lots of graceful battling, with Eric often advancing the charges. In image, he's very much a mortal Thor and therefore, the guy we can't help but root for, his presence molding the adventure to his rough guise.  

Of course, parts of the film still invoke a feminine flair, sprinkled with quaint wonders to offset the lumbering CGI beasts. Credit for this enchanting accentuation goes to Nicolas-Troyan, who pulls from his experience as the original film's effects supervisor.

When the ice clears, justice prevails, with the survivors looking toward a better day and one can assume more adventures, but fluid sequels (not collisions of "then and now") are the recommended thread here. 

On this basis, our hero needn't face only fairy-tale icons like Snow White, Cinderella and Maleficent (the latter's tale also produced by executive Joe Roth). Indeed, these characters would be ideal for extended sprees, but perhaps it would be more enticing to see the mighty Huntsman in a Sinbad type sojourn, combating colossal sea and island beasts. On the other hand, a basic Robin Hood knock off, with a few fleeting monsters woven into the plot, might work far better. Truly, any number of scenarios could click, if the producers/writers were to let their imaginations roll. 

Nonetheless, even if the Huntsman's saga remains a two-parter, the gallant Eric will have more than made his mark. Hemsworth can hold his head high, confident that he remains one of Hollywood's most bankable action stars. Doc Savage, anyone?

1 comment:

  1. Well, the decision has been made on Doc Savage--Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson.