There is not really any reason why Snow White and the Huntsman needed a sequel. It did well at the box office, but wasn't a HUGE hit, and it is mostly remembered for the off-camera hanky panky between married director Rupert Sanders and star Kristen Stewart. Oops. But now there is a sequel, where we just pretend like none of that happened. Both director and star have been booted so far from this movie that Snow White only shows up for a second, back to the camera, sobbing. Let's just say, that ain't Kristen Stewart.
The Huntsman gets top billing because he is a blonde action star named Chris. But, intriguingly, the Huntsman is absolutely the least interesting thing about this film. Let's just say, the plot has more than a familiar ring to it. In fact I kept expecting to see one of the characters break into "Let it Go". That's right, if The Huntsman: Winter's War was sold as a live-action remake of Frozen, it would have been a box office smash.
Let's just forget Chris Hemsworth for the next paragraph, because, well, his character is forgettable. The real meat of the story is between two sisters, the evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) and her kinder sister Freya (Emily Blunt). In a flashback, we see that Ravenna was a total bitch to her sister, making Freya's lover kill their infant child. That is because Ravenna doesn't believe in love (now doesn't THAT sound like a fairy tale!). This trauma freezes Freya's heart, turning her into an ice queen. She is so furious about her loss that with mere sweeping gestures she creates a familiar ice palace, and having lost her child, she steals her kingdom's children to create her own army of "huntsman" soldiers. As we know from the last movie, Ravenna was "killed" by Snow White, sucked into the golden mirror (mirror) on the wall. But the filmmakers also know that juicily evil Charlize was the best thing about the last movie, so let's just say that Ravenna gets another chance to be full-on evil.
If you care at all about the Huntsman, his sad childhood, his lost love (the wasted Jessica Chastain who seems to be taking it all too seriously), and his affinity for dwarf-friends, well, there's that. But if you bother seeing this film, see it for the absolutely stunning art direction and costumes. Like the last film, the look of The Huntsman: Winter's War will take your breath away. Seriously, Emily Blunt wears a dress whose train tinkles and glitters like shards of ice. It actually made me gasp, it was that amazing.
There is a series of featurettes with behind the scenes materials, including amusing interviews with the dwarves, highlights of the digital effects, and of course, costume designer Colleen Atwood talking about some of her amazing creations. There is also an audio commentary from director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, deleted scenes, and a gag reel.