The Huntsman: Winter's War

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Huntsman: Winter's War Movie Poster Image
Messy, violent Snow White sequel wastes its great actors.
  • PG-13
  • 2016
  • 114 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 16 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Love can be enduring and powerful, not fleeting and fair-weathered. Also messages about teamwork, friendship, and the real meaning of family, and the story explores how jealousy can corrupt.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The huntsman never stops loving Sara; he stays true to her. Eric is brave and saves lives. Sara redeems a betrayal by protecting Eric. The dwarfs act honorably and help the huntsmen try to defeat the evil queens. Queen Freya discovers that love is real and acts accordingly.

Violence

Both queens kill people in many different ways. A baby is burned to death in her crib. Ravenna can summon tar-filled death rays, while Freya commands ice to do her bidding -- like freeze people into a state of suspended animation or freeze and shatter them into pieces. The huntsmen army kills in battle. The goblins are large, horned, ape-like creatures that scarily scream and attack humans.

Sex

Ravenna plays footsie with her husband. Eric and Sara share intense gazes, kiss passionately, and make love more than once; in one scene, they're naked in a hot spring (bare shoulders, backs shown as they kiss, and in another, they undress each other while lying down (bare backs visible, side view of him on top of her).

Language

Insult words such as "ugly," "stupid," "idiot," "monster," "evil."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The huntsman and the dwarves have a drink at a pub.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Huntsman: Winter's War is both a prequel and sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman, following the origin story of how Eric (Chris Hemsworth) became a huntsman. Like its predecessor, the film is violent and dark, despite the fairytale references and themes. Kids may think it's going to be like the hit TV show Once Upon a Time, but the movie has intense scenes like an infant's death, startling betrayals, and many deaths (though only a few are shown up close). Both queens (played by Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron) kill, albeit in different ways, and there are scary, horned, ape-like goblins that pursue and nearly kill the protagonists. While there's little in the way of language or drinking, there are two sensuous-but-not-graphic love scenes -- expect to see kissing and bare shoulders/backs.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byFanBoyJosh314 April 22, 2016

Love creates strength and joy

I saw it last night, so here is my full review. For parents with middle-schoolers, this isn't a bad movie. My 8th grader handled it very well, but I'm... Continue reading
Parent of a 11 and 13 year old Written byafenrick April 23, 2016

Violent with great comic relief

I saw this tonight with my nearly 14 year old daughter and 11 year old son. We all really enjoyed it. The imagery was phenomenal and the comic banter welcome... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old April 20, 2016

Great for tweens but not my favorite

My mom thought it was good. It has some iffy stuff and violence. There is a bunch of sword fighting some blood is shown and a queen kills people like eating the... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byroselillypotter August 24, 2016

Loved it!

The movie is good but there is some violence that is not for some younger viewers, the movies is like a Disney based but with an twist for older kids to enjoy.

What's the story?

THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER'S WAR is both a prequel and a sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman. At first, the story takes place nearly 20 years before the events of Snow White, when Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) has a beloved but (until then) unmagical younger sister, Freya (Emily Blunt), who's pregnant with her lover's (an engaged man) child. Ravenna tries to convince Freya that love never works out, but Freya refuses to believe that ... until her beloved burns their baby girl in her crib. At that moment, Freya's magic is unleashed, and she becomes an ice witch (think Elsa in Frozen). She flees her sister and creates an empire where love is a sin by raising an army of huntsmen -- children whom her minions kidnap. A decade later, Freya's two best warriors, Eric (Chris Hemworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain), fall in love; Sara is killed, while Eric is banished in punishment. Then the action shifts to seven years later, after Snow White defeats Ravenna. Eric is commanded to destroy the Magic Mirror before Freya takes possession of her late sister's most valued object. But not everyone presumed dead is actually gone.

Is it any good?

Despite a fabulous cast, Theron's absence for most of this visually outstanding but underwhelming film takes away its most compelling element -- a treacherous villain. Blunt is a wonderful actress, but her Freya, while fascinating, isn't as interesting as her older sister. She's like Elsa with a big army and a frozen heart, but she's not convincingly eeevil like Ravenna. The romantic subplot between Eric and Sara is predictable from the first time they lay eyes on each other as kidnapped children, and no time is spent on how their forbidden love managed to grow in a kingdom where they're supposed to feel only loyalty. The messy plot doesn't allow viewers to see more than that they were the best and prettiest and therefore fated.

By the time Theron finally pops back into the picture, it's too little, too late to save it from mediocrity. Her slithering, scheming queen is the brightest part of the movie, and even the talented stars and funny cameos from Nick Frost, Sheridan Smith, and two other British comedians as dwarves can redeem this confoundingly boring mess. The only saving graces (besides the stars) are the gorgeous costumes and the visually impressive enchanted forest. Otherwise, seeing this is merely an exercise in supporting quality actors stuck in a subpar sequel which is made even more infuriating by the obvious way it leaves room for yet another installment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Huntsman: Winter's War works as both a prequel and sequel. Is it successful in bringing the Snow White story forward? Do you need to see the first movie to understand/appreciate this one?

  • Even though this movie is about fairy tales, it's not really aimed at younger audiences. Do you think the violence is necessary to the story? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • Discuss how women are depicted in the movie. What are the positive representations of women? What are the negative representations? What's the ultimate take-away?

  • Who are the role models in the movie? How are the characters courageous? Why is that an important character strength?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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