Come for the all-star cast, stay for ... the costumes?
That should be the tagline of "The Huntsman: Winter's War," which hits theaters Friday. Yes, it's an action flick starring Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain that pretty much brings "Frozen" to life, but it's also a romantic drama featuring an at times awkward love affair between Hemsworth (Eric/The Huntsman) and Chastain (Sara).
It all begins with sibling love. Ravenna (Theron) and her more reserved sister Freya (Blunt) live a lovely life together until Freya falls in love and gets pregnant. Why would that be a bad thing, you may ask? Well, if you saw "Snow White and the Huntsman" you know that Ravenna does not like it when she isn't "the fairest of them all," and considering Freya's baby daughter will seemingly take that title away from her -- according to the Mirror -- Ravenna schemes and plots until her sister's life is destroyed. This turmoil leads Freya's inner villainous powers to be released and she becomes, oddly enough, the Ice Queen. (Get the "Frozen" reference yet?)
Once Freya leaves to control her own icy palace, she begins to recruit children soldiers who will train to eventually become her Huntsmen army. That's when we meet a young Eric and Sara, Freya's strongest recruits, who grow up together and eventually strike up a romance. Only catch is, love is banned in Freya's kingdom, so when she finds out about her two lovestruck soldiers, she seeks revenge by making Sara believe Eric betrayed her. Eric, on the other hand, thinks Freya had Sara killed. It's all very confusing, as is Freya's frosted owl mask that lets her see things outside the palace:
That storyline would lead into the plot of "Snow White and the Huntsman." But this movie skips over that, of course, and becomes a sequel, catching up with Eric during Snow White's reign. (No, unfortunately Kristen Stewart does not make a surprise appearance, but Finnick Odair Sam Claflin does!)
Eric is living in peace until the Prince (Claflin) warns him about some Mirror drama and sends him out on a mission with a pair of dwarf brothers. From there, action-filled scenes, horned goblin-gorillas and the tumultuous chemistry between Hemsworth and Chastain take control until Theron finally returns as the evil Ravenna to steal the spotlight. (I still don't understand why this movie focuses so much on the Huntsman and his Katniss Everdeen-esque "wife" when it has a fire-and-ice duo waiting in the wings for green-screen time? And with costumes designed by Oscar winner Colleen Atwood, they should feature Theron and Blunt as much as possible, duh.)
Although she's nothing like Anna from "Frozen," Ravenna is trying to rekindle her relationship with frosty Freya, who knows that she'll never be able to trust her selfish, conniving sister -- as she's apparently been living in the Mirror since the events of "Snow White" unfolded. Eventually, a bit of an Elsa vibe shines through as Freya realizes that love, maybe, can conquer all.
Cue "Let It Go."
To sum it up, if you enjoyed "Snow White and the Huntsman," you'll most likely be satisfied with this prequel-but-sequel. Plus, in my humble opinion, it's never a bad thing when Chris Hemsworth appears on screen to capture your attention with his charm, smile and quasi-Scottish accent. Amirite?
Yes, yes I am.
"The Huntsman: Winter's War" hits theaters Friday.