Friday, April 22, 2016
“The Huntsman: Winter’s War” – Read before you write.
Q: I heard a rumor that you and a couple friends are starting a podcast where you fix movies. Is that true?
A: Indeed. The idea sprung up prior to a screening of Batman v Superman, where my friend and I discussed how easy it would be to fix Man of Steel to make it, at the very least, not so dumb.
Q: So your first episode will be Man of Steel?
A: Nope. We’re going with Snow White and the Huntsman, but we’ll be doing Man of Steel soon enough.
Q: I see what you did there. You created an excuse to rewatch Snow White and the Huntsman so nobody would think you were weird for rewatching Snow White and the Huntsman. There isn’t really a podcast, is there?
A: Yes, seriously, there is.
Q: Well…how about that? So, what did you learn?
A: I learned that writers not writing for the Marvel Cinematic Universe don’t bother to read screenplays of predecessors to sequels or even watch the movies.
Q: Do tell.
A: Are you okay with SPOILERS?
Q: Absolutely. Continue.
A: Ravenna (Charlize Theron) is trapped in the mirror and her sister inadvertently lets her out.
Q: Do you mean the same Ravenna that dies at the end of the first film? The same woman who shrivels up into a desiccated corpse on the floor? That Ravenna?
A: The very same.
A: I know. There is no explanation whatsoever as to how she ended up in the mirror. The fun part of that is during the Q&A, Theron said she didn’t think it was contrived how they brought Ravenna back to life.
Q: Isn’t that kind of the definition of contrived?
A: Yes, but if you read my full Q&A write-up, Theron more than made up for it.
Q: Fair enough. What else didn’t they bother learning from the first film?
A: Remember the scene in the first film where Ravenna’s brother tells the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) how he killed the Huntsman’s wife?
Q: Not really.
A: Well, he did. Anyway, not only is that retconned in the sequel, but she’s not even dead. The queen’s sister, Freya (Emily Blunt), tricks him into thinking she’s dead. Sure, he believes the lie for seven years, which covers the events of the first film, but doesn’t explain Ravenna’s brother reminiscing her death.
Q: Fair enough. So, what’s this movie about, anyway?
A: It starts off pre-Snow White events, showing Ravenna killing one of her previous husbands/kings via chess board. Freya…
Q: Wait – death by chess board? Like, she murders him by hitting him with a chess board? That’s oddly specific.
A: Actually, no. She’s placed a spell on the game they are playing that literally kills him when she puts him in checkmate. Stop interrupting.
A: Anyway, Freya is there later and they discuss how Freya’s powers haven’t surfaced yet and how love sucks. This was the strange way they segued into Freya’s lover allegedly burning their child to death, which causes Freya’s powers – control of all things ice and cold – to explode out of her.
Q: So she’s Elsa? HAHAHAHA.
A: I didn’t even think of that. Nice work.
Q: And was anyone in the theater surprised by the obvious – that it will be revealed Ravenna actually killed the baby?
A: Of course not. She might as well have worn a sign admitting as much.
Q: You still haven’t told me what this movie’s about.
A: Good point. Freya becomes the ice queen of the north and takes over kingdom after kingdom. After each conquest, she takes all the captured children, raises them to be soldiers (referring to them as her huntsman) and tells them that her only rule is that love is forbidden. Of course, her two best warriors – Sara (Jessica Chastain) and Eric (Hemsworth) – fall in love. Freya finds out about it and tricks Eric into thinking Sara is dead and tricks Sara into thinking Eric abandons her after making the two of them fight other huntsman. Seven years later, King William (Sam Claflin) asks Eric to recover the magic mirror before Freya gets it and take it to a special place where its power cannot be used.
Q: There seems to be a lot going on in that paragraph and none of it is the plot. Why don’t you try again?
A: Eric must stop Freya from invading Snow White’s kingdom.
Q: Better. So, why does she need the mirror? She’s a super powerful ice wizard and the only power the mirror has (that we know of) is the ability to pick People Magazine’s most beautiful woman.
A: I have no idea why she wants it. It’s one of the most blatant MacGuffin’s in the history of cinema, but without it, they can’t shoehorn Ravenna back into the movie, which in turn allows them to redeem Freya at the end.
Q: Couldn’t they have just made Freya evil from start to finish?
A: This movie is from the same people who brought us Maleficent.
Q: Got it. How about you wrap this up in the way I know you’re dying to use – how would you fix this movie?
A: It’s about time. Here goes – I would remove the mirror altogether and go all in on an evil ice queen; no more of this garbage where the bad guy has to start off good or be misunderstood. She’s an ICE QUEEN. I’d have Eric and Sara learn about the fake-out at the end of the film. That way, we can still have the betrayal moment in the woods, but it makes more sense. And, instead of everyone chasing the Magic MacGuffin, let’s just have them defend the kingdom from the ICE QUEEN. We conclude with the climactic fight scene where Sara learns of the fake-out and turns on Freya. Maybe the two lovers die, maybe one of them dies, maybe neither of them dies, but they take down Freya and save the realm.
Q: Nice. So, you must have hated this movie.
A: Actually, no.
Q: Wait – what?
A: If you can ignore all the side stories of this film and incongruity with the first film, it’s actually a decent fantasy quest movie, despite the MacGuffin. The actors and characters are all good, comic relief was added to lighten the tone (and it worked very well), the visuals were splendid, and, overall, it was more entertaining than the first movie.
Q: It was Emily Blunt, wasn’t it?
A: I’ve got a podcast to go prep for.
Rating: Ask for half your money back. At the very least, you’ll be glad Kristen Stewart doesn’t make an appearance.