Last night, I went out and saw the Huntsman: Winter’s War with someone fantastic. I haven’t been to the movies in a long time and I honestly didn’t know anything about this movie. I’m glad that I went to the movie and I’m also glad I had no preconceptions about what the movie would be like. And I think this movie works a lot better if you haven’t seen Snow White and the Huntsman, or if you don’t remember that movie at all.
“Betrayed by her evil sister Ravenna, heartbroken Freya retreats to a northern kingdom to raise an army of huntsmen as her protectors. Gifted with the ability to freeze her enemies in ice, Freya teaches her young soldiers to never fall in love. When Eric and fellow warrior Sara defy this rule, the angry queen does whatever she can to stop them.”
This movie is a pseudo-sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman, but it’s a sequel only in a few very small ways. The movie tasks place in the same world with some of the same characters as Snow White and the Huntsman, but the story mostly focuses on Eric the Huntsman. Actually, this story focuses on the Huntsmen in general and shows how they are acquired as children and trained to be Freya’s army.
I enjoyed this movie greatly and thought it was hilarious and imaginative. The fantasy elements, creatures, and world-building were marvelous and the setting worked in favor of the story in every way.
There’s probably going to be spoilers in this review so if you want to be surprised then you should probably stop reading here.
Eric is a fantastic character. He’s talented, funny, and devoted, which makes him a character worth cheering for. Sara is also a fantastic character for the same reasons. The movie featured a lot of pairings, since Eric begins his journey with two dwarves and then collects another two dwarves, and is saved during a bar room brawl with other Huntsmen by Sara, whom he has believed for the last seven years to be dead.
The movie shows Eric and Sara being raised together as part of Freya’s army and how they became the best of the Huntsmen and then how they fell in love. Sara was remarkably skilled with a bow (I think this “series” has this thing about making primary love interests skilled with the bow) and she was also a very skilled fighter. It was remarkably refreshing to see a fighting partnership where both worked to augment each other and where they were equals. Eric and Sara’s interactions were honest and hilarious and I found myself genuinely hoping they would start communicating effectively again because the chemistry between them was so strong.
The dwarves were all hilarious. The male dwarves made constant jokes about the female dwarves, but the female dwarves were witty, clever, competent, and hilarious. The interactions between the two sets of dwarves was fun, for all that it was predictable. The movie had a general trend of pairing people together at the end, and while I understand it because this was a movie about how love is a good thing.
One of the things I enjoyed the most about this movie was Sara’s perspective of love. She spent a lot of the movie talking about how love is a lie and that those you love and give your heart to will always abandon you when you need them the most, and that really struck a lot of chords with me. I spent most of the movie agreeing whole-heartedly with Sara’s comments and her views on Eric. The truth, though, is that both Sara and Eric were deceived. When Freya formed her ice wall, Eric saw another Huntsman kill Sara and he watched her blood on the wall before he himself was knocked unconscious and his body thrown into the icy river. Sara saw Eric face overwhelming odds and flee away from the castle. Both were deceived by Freya so that they would each believe that their love was destroyed, Eric by believing the actual, physical death of Sara, and Sara by believing Eric was a coward who was unworthy of her love because he abandoned her after they married and swore to stand or fall together. As much as I believe that I am the villain of this story and that there are no happy endings for people like me, I wanted things to work out between Eric and Sara. I wanted them to communicate effectively and fight side-by-side to save the day (which they did). Their relationship isn’t perfect (nothing ever is) but it’s perfect for them and who they are, which makes it a viable match.
The reason we watch movies like this is for escapism and wish-fulfillment; we want to see the happily ever after ending because it’s usually so far from our real lives that it’s what our heart wants and is often denied. It’s the idea of finding someone who loves you who you love more than anything and having things actually work out. It’s thinking that somewhere, there’s someone who is a perfect partner for you – that you will fight and stand together and fall together. Someone who will believe in you, even when you don’t believe in yourself, but also someone who will knock you on your butt when you get out of line. Someone who will never miss.
Overall, I would rate this movie as a high three on my rating scale. The characters are worthwhile and hilarious and the setting is incredibly imaginative. I’m glad I went and saw this movie in the theater and I think I’ll buy it when it comes out.