The Huntsman: Winter’s War unfolds like a storybook for dimwits. It’s an absolute waste of the talents of three leading actresses at the peak of their powers (Jessica Chastain, Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron). The first movie in the series almost worked as a retelling of a clichéd fairy tale trope by assigning Kristin Stewart’s Snow White more agency and power in achieving her Queenly destiny, with the Huntsman along as a sidekick for good measure. That the series has reassigned Chris Hemsworth’s Huntsman the main protagonist role (after Stewart’s well documented shag with her director) is an extremely disappointing decision by the studio, as is the way the once formidable Snow White has been reduced to a gibbering, faceless wreck in this pre/sequel.
Movie goers have shown there is an audience for films led by strong female characters (Hunger Games, Twilight, now Star Wars) and studios are trying to cash in. Good. But this movie does a grave disservice to its female leads. Though they are ‘strong’ in their way, the film barely passes the Bechdel test, if at all. Their inner lives and characters are uncomplicated, unnuanced and above all unrelatable. None of the actresses seem to be having any fun, leaving wooden heroes and villains on the screen and me sitting in my cinema seat wondering ‘Honestly: why did they agree to be in this movie?’ What a waste. Give us the female driven action/fantasy we deserve! JJ Abrams has shown it’s not impossible within the confines of the studio system.