The Huntsman: Winter’s War 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Nick Frost, Sam Claflin
  • Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
  • Writers: Evan Spiliotopoulos, Craig Mazin
  • Producer: Joe Roth
  • Format: 4K
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: August 23, 2016
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: May 2, 2018

        This was a film that was doomed to fail long before anyone had even seen it. First of all, you are dealing with characters that many consider sacred, and critics were already unkind to the adaptation of Snow White. You might think that the prequel/sequel/spin-off film, The Huntsman: Winter’s War would have a better chance going in an original direction, but instead it pillages a more recent animated Disney film. Add in the controversy over Charlize Theron’s pay being less than Chris Hemsworth, which was revealed by the now-infamous Sony email hacks, Stewart and director Rupert Sanders’ absence following rumors of an affair onset of the last film, and it all adds up to a recipe for failure.

        Other than blatantly ripping off the plot of Frozen and the production design of fantasy epics such as Thor and The Lord of the Rings, The Huntsman: Winter’s War is competently made, at least in a technical sense. Actually watching the film, it seems somewhat silly that Theron would be paid the same as Hemsworth, especially since she is in the film a fraction of the amount of time that he is. But all of the time that Theron spends in the film is heavily polished with stylized glamour, even more so than the actress’s countless perfume ads. The only thing more over-the-top than the costume design for Theron is her style of acting.

        Although Queen Ravenna (Theron) makes an appearance at the beginning and the end of the film, most of the movie shifts focus to her sister, Queen Freya (Emily Blunt). After losing all hope in love at a young age, Freya’s heart turns to ice. Then the entire land is turned to ice and all are forced to bow to Queen Elsa… I mean, Queen Freya. Eric (Hemsworth) is a Huntsman in Freya’s army, but he is thrown out after breaking the rules by falling in love with a fellow soldier named Sara (Jessica Chastain, appearing out of mere contractual obligation). This explains how The Huntsman came to be in the woods for Snow White’s narrative, skipping over that section this time and jarringly transitioning from prequel to sequel.

        Even if I were able to forget that this is a follow-up film to a modern adaptation of a beloved story, and even if I could dismiss the narrative similarities to past films, there is simply too much of The Huntsman: Winter’s War which feels as though it were constructed in a boardroom. As much as I enjoy Nick Frost and occasionally endure Rob Brydon, their inclusion as dwarves providing comedic relief feels obligatory. Nothing about this movie feels the slightest bit original or daring. It is starting to feel like the film industry in the business of mass production, and movies like this are evidence of the creative decline. Is this film well made? In the sense that all of the costumes and camera work look polished and glamorous, yes. But it doesn’t provide much beneath the surface for audience members who are discontent with this type of fast-food cinema.

        The 4K Ultra HD may usually be a luxury I would reserve for films that I like, I will admit that the greatest assets in The Hunstman are on full display in this detailed presentation. Every colorful detail of the costumes can be seen, and the sound is eerily crisp, as though Theron were haunting your living room. The only special feature included on the 4K disc is the commentary track with director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, but there is also a Blu-ray copy of the film with all of the rest. These extras also included the commentary, which is also optional on the deleted scenes. There is also a gag reel, and five featurettes about everything from the costumes and special effects to the characters and the actors playing them. The set also includes a Digital HD copy of the film.

Entertainment Value: 6.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6/10
Historical Significance:  2/10
Special Features: 7.5/10

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