Blu-ray Review – The Huntsman: Winter’s War

Release Date: August 23, 2016
Rating: PG-12 / Extended Not Rated
Running Time: 1 hour 54 minutes / Extended 2 hours

The Huntsman: Winter’s War stars Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road, Monster) as the evil Queen Ravenna, who betrays her good sister Freya (Emily Blunt: Sicario, Edge of Tomorrow) with an unforgivable act, freezing Freya’s heart to love and unleashing in her an icy power she never knew she possessed. Retreating to a kingdom far to the north, Freya raises an army of Huntsmen as her protectors, withthe only rule that no two of them should ever fall in love.

As a war for domination escalates between the two queens, the hero standing between good and evil is Freya’s most elite Huntsman, Eric (Chris Hemsworth: Thor, Star Trek Into Darkness). Alongside fellow warrior Sara (Jessica Chastain: The Martian,The Help) — the only woman who has ever captured his heart — Eric must help Freya vanquish her sister or Ravenna’s wickedness will rule for eternity. 


Wow, I don’t know why this movie got trashed the way that it did because I enjoyed it. Sure, in tone it was much lighter at times than Snow White and the Huntsman, which yeah, was odd and felt out of place given how dark these movies initially decided to go. But aside from this slight imbalance in tone and a bit of a muddled middle, this was much more engaging and satisfying than I initially thought it would be.

“Love does not make you weak. It’s all that’s ever given me strength.” – The Huntsman

I didn’t think I needed a prequel but as it turns out, I can actually appreciate this movie more than the first because guaranteed action, awesome female representation, and a visually stunning two hours aside, it’s such a fascinating exploration of self love, hatred, love and sacrifice, power and control, trust and loyalty, beauty, selflessness, and the threat of others being greater than we are. We explore these themes and more in various ways through the sibling relationship between Freya and Ravenna and the romantic relationship between The Huntsman aka Eric and Sara. Could all of this have been executed better? Yeah, sure. But to say that it didn’t accomplish at least emotionally engaging the viewer and striking a chord in them is to ignore all of the good parts of the movie.

I understand the frustrations behind this movie, setting out to make one movie and it ending up not coming out how you envisioned it in your head. It’s not easy bringing a vision to life, let alone having that vision brought to life in Hollywood, where a number of messy hands are all over it. So. I feel this movie’s pain. It didn’t reach its full potential, it lacks the mighty beating heart that it may originally have had. That said, through all that was not wonderful about this film, I saw the heart of it and it really moved me.

Not everyone is going to see that and so I understand why this movie was a let down to many but boy did the wolves come out for this one. The Huntsman: Winter’s War is a solid movie. But I’ll say this. If you think you definitely won’t enjoy it, I’m not here to change your mind. But if there’s any bit of hope in you catching this one, grab some popcorn, pay attention, and allow yourself to really be absorbed by these characters, their greatest strengths and weaknesses and fears and desires.


Bonus Features:
* Deleted Scenes with Commentary (Approx. 10 minutes) – There are four deleted scenes with the option to play all as well as the option to play with commentary from director, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan. I love when deleted scenes come with commentary and it’s been awhile since I’ve watch special features that included such so I was excited about and very pleased with this feature.

* Gag Reel (Approx. 9:43 minutes) – Based on the gag reel, you’d think they filmed right next to an airport with all of the planes flying overhead and ruining their shots. One plane is one thing but boy, they really struggled here. Anyway, this gag reel is probably one of the most enjoyable ones I’ve seen all year. From Charlize parenting in between shots to Jessica falling in the river, kissing with a super hairy beard, and more, this gag reel has it all.

* Winter’s Vistas: The Making of The Huntsman: Winter’s War – This Making Of feature is broken down into 5 featurettes… Two Queens and Two Warriors (Approx 7:23 minutes) a fun feature in which the cast and crew discuss the backstories of and dynamics between Freya and Ravenna and how their brokenness fuels their destructive ways. In Meet the Dwarfs (Approx 8:15 minutes), the cast talks about the role of the dwarfs and getting into character and doubles. I know that there are plenty of little people who act (see shows like Charmed) so it’s puzzling why these roles didn’t go to people who actually are little. Anywayyyy, Magic All Around (Approx 8:40 minutes) is all about the powers that Freya and Ravenna possess and bringing that to life as well as the magical setting in general to life via special effects and all that jazz. Visually speaking, this film is gorgeous so seeing some of it coming together behind the scenes was even more fulfilling. Dressed To Kill (Approx. 6:05 minutes) is notably, all about the absolutely exquisite costume design and wardrobe that Charlize, Emily, and Jessica wear throughout the film. Such power portrayed in such vastly different and distinct ways. I’d love to see this wardrobe in a museum. Finally, there’s Love Conquers All (Approx. 5:55 minutes) was surprisingly all about the tone on set which was really energized and relaxed, focused but at ease, with the cast and crew really, genuinely enjoying the moments that they are in. That was so pleasant and encouraging to see and dare I say necessary for the world to see with a film that has three female actors leading the charge. Job well done on this feature, spreading the love.

Appearing in These Features:
Director, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Executive Producer, Sarah Bradshaw
Visual Effects Supervisor, Paul Lambert
Prop Master, David Cheesman
Sculptor, Codrina Spataru
Producer, Joe Roth
Costume Designer, Colleen Atwood
Motion Capture Supervisor (Double Negative), Simon Kay
Cast Members,  Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chastain, Nick Frost, Rob Brydon, Alexandra Roach, Sheridan Smith

* Commentary – The commentary is conducted by director, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan. As the commentary begins, Cedric places his own disclaimer about his French accent, acknowledging that some folk will not be down to listen to the commentary because of it but he’s happy to go along for the ride for the people who are. As a Francophile myself, I was, dare I say, in heaven with the accent so I didn’t mind one bit. As for the commentary itself, wow. He gave so much insight into the behind the scenes of this movie, it made me appreciate the movie ten times more and I already had a soft spot for the movie to begin with. If you enjoyed the movie or are simply curious as to the makings of it, definitely check out the commentary, there’s plenty (and I mean plenty) to learn from here about the making of this movie.

Own The Huntsman: Winter’s War on Blu-ray and DVD today.