Davis: The Huntsman: Winter’s War has a hard act to follow

Heartbroken, Freya retreats to a northern kingdom to raise an army of huntsmen as her protectors.

  • Apr. 19, 2016 7:00 p.m.

Emily Blunt (left) and Charlize Theron star in The Huntsman: Winter’s War.

Although Disney’s remake of The Jungle Book was expected to do well last weekend, it exceeded everyone’s most optimistic expectations to gross above $100 million, breaking more than a few records for April.

With the success of Cinderella last year and Maleficent before that, Disney’s future remakes of classic animated tales (including Beauty and the Beast and this summer’s Pete’s Dragon) are to be looked forward to. Kudos to Disney for making movies of quality that people want to see and not just doing remakes just to make a buck.

Unfortunately, the success of The Jungle Book could spell trouble for The Huntsman: Winter’s War. It is Universal Pictures’ follow-up to its successful Snow White and the Huntsman four years ago and while Kristen Stewart does not return as Snow, it is actually set before the events of the first film and mixes characters from the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale but also Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen (which was loosely adapted into Frozen).

Returning is Chris Hemsworth as Eric the Huntsman and Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen Ravenna and joining them is Emily Blunt as the Ice Queen Freya and Jessica Chastain as the warrior Sara.

Betrayed by her evil sister Ravenna, the heartbroken Freya retreats to a northern kingdom to raise an army of huntsmen as her protectors. However, when two of her most formidable warriors, Eric and Sara, fall in love, Freya uses her powers to separate the two and make the Huntsman believe his love has perished. Featuring an attractive cast, including Nick Frost and Sam Claflin, this adventure tells an original tale based on classic characters and has love, betrayal, revenge and fantasy elements that could appeal to fans of the stories that it draws its inspiration from.

The only question is how will it fare on the heels of the hugely successful and audience-pleasing The Jungle Book? Although Snow White and the Huntsman was a hit, its successor lacks Snow White (and Kristen Stewart) and it does not have the same buzz. Given the strong cast, The Huntsman: Winter’s War will have a strong opening, but will be in second place behind Mowgli and friends.

The movie to take a chance on this weekend is Midnight Special. This sci-fi thriller has been generating a lot of buzz with an intriguing story of a father and his eight-year-old son who go on the lam upon discovering that the boy possesses mysterious powers.

Critics are praising filmmaker Jeff Nichols and comparing him to Steven Spielberg and are also giving good notices to the cast which includes Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst and Adam Driver. One recommendation is to not watch any of the previews before going to see it as it is one of those movies that no matter how little they put in the trailer, it shows too much.

 

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