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Winter's bore The Huntsman: Winter's War'

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Unnecessary sequel an ill-conceived, uninteresting misfire

In a cinematic landscape constructed on a foundation of franchises, it stands to reason that every moderately successful film offering will see itself at least considered for a sequel. Sometimes, that works out very well. Other times, not so much.

'The Huntsman: Winter's War' is about as 'not so much' as they come. This prequel/sequel to 2012's 'Snow White and the Huntsman' that's right; they made a sequel to a freaking SNOW WHITE movie might be the most unnecessary sequel of the year.

Basically, if you found yourself watching the first film and asking questions like 'Does Charlize Theron's character have a sister?' and 'How did Hemsworth's childhood influence his current badassness?' and so on, then 'Winter's War' is for you.

We get a quick breakdown of the first movie's events before delving into a distant past one in which Ravenna (Theron) is murdering her way through various queendoms with her not-magic sister Freya (Emily Blunt, 'Sicario') by her side. But when Freya loses her baby in a tragic incident, it turns out that she totally IS magic she has sad and scary ice powers and heads off into the lands of the North to rule a land of her own.

Her method for doing so involves freezing everything and kidnapping all the children to turn them into soldiers; the only rule is that love isn't allowed.

Her best child soldiers grow up to be the titular Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth, 'In the Heart of the Sea') his name is Eric and a woman named Sara (Jessica Chastain, 'The Martian'). Despite the rules, they fall in love. That ends about as well as you might expect.

Years later, after the events of 'Snow White,' we learn that Snow White's kingdom is threatened by the encroaching forces of Freya's army. Plus, the Magic Mirror has been stolen it is assumed that if Freya adds its power to her own, she will be unstoppable. And so Eric is enlisted on Snow White's behalf (though Kristen Stewart is nowhere to be found assumedly because Mrs. Stewart didn't raise any fools) to get the mirror and take it somewhere to be safely destroyed.

Along the way, Eric's past and present collide as he is thrust into a life-or-death struggle in which he's unsure of who and what he can trust even his memories might not be what they seem.

Movies like 'The Huntsman: Winter's War' are difficult to label with such basic concepts as 'good' or 'bad.' For instance, this is by no means a good movie, but there are some talented performers doing decent work here. It's a ridiculous movie, but that doesn't necessarily make it bad.

What it is is simplypointless. There's no reason for this movie to even exist except for the fact that some studio executive somewhere saw OK numbers for the first film and decided to make another one. Doing a sequel to 'Snow White' even the dark and gritty version would seem to be outlandish on the face of it, but not even common sense can resist the allure of the almighty box office dollar in Hollywood.

But worst of all? It's all pretty boring.

The script is about what you'd expect when your two screenwriters are best known for a bunch of straight-to-video animated Disney sequels (Evan Spiliotopoulos) and multiple iterations of 'Scary Movie' (Craig Mazin), respectively. Throw in Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, an admittedly well-respected visual effects guy who is directing his first-ever feature and wellit's not the best-told tale.

None of this is the cast's fault, by the way. The level of talent is actually kind of shocking considering the circumstances. Hemsworth is back, obviously it's the kind of twinkly-eyed, ripply-muscled action turn that is his bread and butter. He's not a great actor, but he's great when he's in his wheelhouse like this. Chastain is also quite good, though one occasionally gets the sense that she can't quite believe that she's doing all of this. Theron gnaws on the scenery with reckless abandon, while Blunt though game for anything never quite reaches the level of over-the-top villainy that the roles would seem to require.

There are moments a few chuckles, some interesting enough action sequences but for the most part, 'The Huntsman: Winter's War' is basically blah. It's a dull effort that fails to feel like anything other than what it is: a cynical cash grab constructed on the notion that literally any moderately successful film can be transformed into a franchise.

[1.5 out of 5]

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