Are you ready for "The Huntsman: Winter's War"?
Born with innate magic within them as sisters, when Ravenna's magic manifests before her younger sister, Freya, she is told by the Magic Mirror that Freya's newborn daughter will grow to be fairer than her. Seethed in jealousy, Ravenna plots the child's death and frames her brother-in-law as the murderer. Distraught by the death of her child, Freya's chilling powers of ice are awakened and she soon exiles herself away to rule a kingdom of ice and snow with one chilling rule that one must not love.
Beginning as a prequel to "Snow White and the Huntsman", this new installment will be centered on the titular huntsman, Eric, who is sent on a mission to retrieve the Magic Mirror for Freya in the grimmer re-imagining of the fairy tale world.
One of the high points for "Snow White and the Huntsman" was its attractive cast which had Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron as the bewitching evil Queen Ravenna in golden splendour. "The Huntsman: Winter's War" upped that appeal even further even without Kristen Stewart, by having not just Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron reprising their respective roles, but also adding Emily Blunt as Ice Queen Freya, who rules a rival kingdom beside Queen Reavenna's, and Jessica Chastain as fellow hunts(wo)man Sara, making this an all-star outing than it already is.
The trailers have pretty much established this to be a prequel story between Ravenna and Freya (as a darker turn of "Frozen"), but the story will also be focusing on the titular warriors; the huntsman, all the way until after the events of "Snow White and the Huntsman". While the magical sibling rivalry between the two queens may take center stage in the dazzling department, there is drama to be had in Huntsman Eric's own past and backstory with Sara, who was briefly mentioned in "Snow White and the Huntsman". With a twist or two expected in the story, you can be sure that this won't be the fairy tale that you are looking for.
While "The Huntsman: Winter's War" could have gone to directors from Frank Darabont to Gavin O'Connor, after it was confirmed that Rupert Sanders won't be returning to the director's chair, Universal had ultimately trusted this pre/sequel in the hands of someone who is already familiar with the visual tone of the series; French visual artist Cedric Nicholas-Troyan. While this would be Troyan's directing debut, he has acted as the second unit director in "Snow White and the Huntsman", and was part of the visual effects team that paved the way for "Snow White and the Huntsman" to an Academy nomination in visual effects. So we can trust his eye in delivering the flashy visual feast in this cold and dark setting that is surely aiming to be more ambitious than its predecessor.
The Special Effects
As an Academy nominated piece for visual effects back in 2012, this pre/sequel is definitely not planning to spare any expenses to up the ante of its spectacular visuals. Already finding the secret to make liquid gold in "Snow White and the Huntsman", the challenge for "Winter's War" will be to shower it with an array of sophisticated snowy and frosty effects to match with Disney's animated "Frozen", if not to make you shiver in your seats.
Aside from being renowned for its digital figments, it also has a refined touch to those that can be felt and touched on screen. "Snow White and the Huntsman" was not only nominated for its visual effects, but also for the ambitious costume design. That ingredient is not forgotten in "Winter's War", as Academy-award winner Colleen Atwood is returning to make the costumes, not only just to fit one evil queen, but also to dress an icy queen with the cold and complex designs and themes of winter.
Cinema Online, 13 April 2016