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Film / The Huntsman: Winter's War

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"There is an evil within the Mirror that has only grown in power."
"What does the Mirror show you? What do you see? An oft told tale. That of Snow White, how she vanquished the evil Queen Ravenna and took her rightful place on the throne. But there is another story, one you have not yet seen. One that comes long before 'happily ever after'."

The Huntsman: Winter's War is both a prequel and a sequel to the 2012 action fantasy Snow White & the Huntsman and combines elements of both the German folktale of Snow White and Andersen’s The Snow Queen, and was released in North America on April 22, 2016.

Decades before she came to Snow White’s kingdom, the evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) had a sister named Freya (Emily Blunt) who fell in love with a man of Ravenna’s court. She became pregnant by him, but one night she found that her beloved had murdered their daughter. Her great despair caused Freya’s magical powers to emerge and she became the Ice Queen. Seeking her own kingdom she went to the north, where one by one the once fertile realms are turned into the Grim Up North by Freya’s power.

As she lays waste to the kingdoms of the North, she kidnaps their children and trains them to become her Huntsmen, with her one rule being that they must never know love. Soon two of the children stand out as the best ones: Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain). But when they are discovered to have fallen in love and married Freya seemingly has Sara killed and Eric cast out of her kingdom.

Seven years later, after Ravenna’s defeat at the hands of Snow White and Eric, Freya has completed her conquest of all the kingdoms of the North and turns her eyes towards Snow White’s kingdom and her late sister’s Magic Mirror, which has been lost en route to a magical Sanctuary for safekeeping. Eric must embark in a quest to bring the Mirror beyond Freya’s reach before she gets her hands on it and uses its power to conquer the world.

The Huntsman: Winter's War contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Sara is an unparalleled warrior, and to a lesser degree all the female members of Freya’s Huntsmen.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • Colin Morgan once again has an ill-fated romance with a woman called Freya.
    • It's also not the first time Emily Blunt has had baby trouble in a fairy tale movie.
    • If one watches Looper then it's also not the first time Emily Blunt has to deal with out-of-control destructive powers - though in that case it's her son whose powers go haywire when she is hurt.
  • Animal Motifs: Ravenna continues with her "corvid" theme, while Freya uses owl motifs in her animated-ice spies and the masks through which she controls them. Their mutual use of bird themes makes sense, as they're sisters.
  • Arrows on Fire: Sara uses on of these to blow up the horde of goblins that are attacking Eric.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Nion and Griff scoff at the idea that goblins stole the Magic Mirror, despite living in a world where magic is all around them and Nion himself has personally encountered and fought even more fantastical beings.
  • Arrow Catch: Ravenna manages to catch an arrow shot at her sister by the Huntsman, revealing her return in the process.
  • Back from the Dead: Ravenna is resurrected when Freya conjures the Magic Mirror. Subverted with Sara though, with the reveal being that Eric only thought she was dead.
  • Badass Boast: "I never miss."
  • Badass Nickname: Freya apparently has one - one of the dwarves calls her Freya of the Frost.
  • Big Bad:
    • Freya, the Ice Queen of the North.
    • Ravenna once she is released from the mirror.
  • Beta Couple: One of the dwarves trumpets out that dwarf maidens are notoriously bad tempered, and he prefers not to. The party promptly runs into the nets of a pair of them. Bitchily ever after.
  • Broken Bird: Freya is violently temperamental and a megalomaniac. She's also traumatized, sensitive and shows signs of severe anxiety, and seems to genuinely care for the children she steals.
  • Cain and Abel: Ravenna and Freya when the latter realizes that the former was responsible for murdering her daughter and framing her lover, as well as continually undermining her authority and attempting to kill her Huntsmen.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The pendant Sara gives Eric as a wedding present - which first proves to her that he did not leave her as she had believed. Also used as proof that she wasn't shooting Eric to kill.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Sara claims "I never miss" when shooting an arrow. She shoots an arrow at Eric, but hits the pendant around his neck. Eric remembers the line and realizes she was faking his death.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Charlize Theron and Emily Blunt leave no set undevoured.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Finn is nowhere to be seen in the scenes set before the previous movie, nor is he ever mentioned by either of his sisters.
  • Creepy Ravens: Ravenna’s theme of ravens continues in this movie, only this time they’re gold ravens.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Ravenna's outfits and makeup are all gold and black, Freya's are all silver and white.
  • Continuity Snarl: Several points of Eric's backstory and the way his wife's death is depicted on screen directly contradict what was shown in the previous movie. In the first film, Finn told Eric that he had raped and murdered his wife and judging from Eric's reaction, Eric appeared to believe him. In this film, Eric, thanks to Freya's illusion, seems to believe that his wife was directly murdered on the spot by Tull, not leaving much room for Finn's involvement. In the end, all of this was more than likely the result of Kristen Stewart having an affair with the previous director and subsequently getting written out, with the writers having no choice but to go in a completely different direction in the sequel.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The credits play over gold and ice objects being destroyed by weapons, with the materials clearly representing Raveena and Freya. The only exception to this is Eric's ice pendant deflecting a flying arrow, referencing Sara pretending to shoot Eric.
  • Demoted to Extra: William’s role is much reduced in this movie, and Snow White herself is only ever seen from the back for a quick scene.
  • Elite Mooks: The Hunstmen are the elite of Freya's armies, her handpicked special forces and generals.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Freya doesn't discriminate between the genders and races in her army.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Ravenna and Freya.
  • Expy: Freya is very similar to Elsa from Frozen. Not only are both of them pale, traumatized, cryokinetic queens. They both have their powers fluctuate based on their emotional states, both build isolated ice castles for themselves to dwell in and both make a sacrifice for someone they love. For bonus points, Freya is also the name of a deity from Norse mythology, while Elsa rules Arendelle, which is the Disney's fictional counterpart of Norway. However this is more justified than most, as both films borrowed from the Hans Christian Andersen story The Snow Queen. Freya is quite close to what Elsa was originally imagined as, before they decided to rewrite her into a misunderstood Anti-Villain.
  • Fairy Tale Motifs: This one has plenty to do with The Snow Queen. It involves childhood friends being separated and one of them needing to be redeemed by The Power of Love, as well as being imprisoned in an ice fortress. Uniquely though the 'Gerda' role is played by the male, while a female plays the 'Kai' role.
  • Fake Shemp: Kristen Stewart does not reprise her role, so Snow White's only scene involves an obvious body double that was filmed from behind.
  • Freudian Excuse: Freya's child is killed by her lover. Therefore she becomes a villainess, brutally conquers a kingdom, kidnaps children and forbids love.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Ravenna would be the smart sister - wanting to conquer kingdoms and build an empire. Freya would be the pretty sister - wishing to fall in love and raise a child.
  • Grim Up North: The kingdoms of the North were once verdant and fertile, but Freya’s power has turned them into a frozen wasteland.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Their first scenes together are subdued, but by the climax Charlize Theron and Emily Blunt hold nothing back in seeing who can chew the most scenery.
  • Harmless Freezing: Freya has a room in her palace full of people she has frozen as punishment. They all thaw out once Freya dies.
  • Horse of a Different Color: Freya rides something between a polar bear and a snow leopard.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Freya, after Ravenna is revealed to have been the one who killed her daughter and she tries to kill Freya's Huntsmen, turns on her and helps the protagonists to defeat her.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: While Freya is hyped throughout the film as the Big Bad, when she gets hold of the mirror, she releases Ravenna's soul, who promptly takes over her army and makes Freya play second fiddle.
  • An Ice Person: Freya has the power to freeze things and create ice constructs.
  • In the Blood: All the women in Ravenna's family have the potential to become powerful sorceresses.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Partial subversion. Freya's baby dies in the prologue, but all of her Child Soldiers make it to adulthood.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Ravenna and Freya.
  • Killer Gorilla: The goblins resemble monstrous apes with huge ram-like horns. Their behavior is also remarkably ape-like.
  • Large Ham: Theron hams it up even more than in the previous one, and Blunt, likewise, matches her in overacting.
  • Lighter and Softer: The first film was straightforward Dark Fantasy with very little humor. This one is a bit more tongue-in-cheek, has a bit more comic relief and is closer to Heroic Fantasy. Eric notably is more of a wise cracker than the humorless brooder he was in the first film.
  • The Lost Lenore: In the prologue, Sara is apparently killed by order of Freya. Her lover, Eric, is affected by her death. Years later, he still mourns her and he constantly wears the pendant she gave him. Subverted when she is revealed to have survived.
  • Love Is a Weakness: Freya becomes a firm believer that love is the source of all the world’s problems after the man she loved murders their daughter, making love illegal as a result. It's implied that Ravenna feels this way too.
  • Magic Mirror: After Ravenna was defeated, it was believed that her mirror’s power would fade into nothing, but it only became more of an Artifact of Doom. This is because Ravenna’s soul was trapped within the mirror.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Freya and Ravenna both (though arguably Ravenna more so than Freya).
  • Meaningful Name: Freya is named for the Norse goddess of fertility and black magic.
  • The Mole: Sara has been acting as one for Freya. But by the time this is revealed, she's now one for Eric.
  • Named by the Adaptation: The Huntsman’s name is revealed to be Eric, after being unnamed in both the previous movie and the source material. However, the subtitles on the home video release of the previous film did give away the Huntsman's real name.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Combined with Trailers Always Spoil. The trailer presents the film primarily as Evil vs. Evil with the two Queens fighting, and the heroes caught in the crossfire. Instead, Ravenna only shows up in flashback until the last half hour of the film, at which point the film is Hijacked by Ganon. The two only start fighting when Freya has a Heel–Face Turn. The trailer also shows that Ravenna killed Freya's child, implying that it's the driving force behind the conflict. Instead, it's a plot-point that comes up in the final few minutes of the film.
  • Nice Mean And In Between: The female protagonists. Doreena is nice, Bromwyn is mean and Sara is in-between.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Once Freya dies the perpetual winter in the lands of the North begins to disappear and all the people she froze alive suddenly thaw out.
  • Offing the Offspring: Freya's lover kills their child, though why is not apparent. He's revealed to have been framed.
  • Our Goblins Are Different: These goblins are huge, brutish goat-gorilla type creatures.
  • Power Dyes Your Hair: Once Freya's ice powers are activated, her blonde hair turns white.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Freya turns on Ravenna to protect her Huntsmen, who she sees as her children, and dies battling her to save them.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Freya is Ravenna's younger sister and the one who raised Eric the Huntsman and trained him to become a badass, and yet she was never mentioned in the previous movie.
  • Sequel Hook: The narration and one of the magic mirror birds have hints of this.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: Sara's costume is notably absent of sleeves.
  • Snowlems: Freya's spy owls are magically-animated white ice.
  • Soul Jar: It is revealed that Ravenna turned the golden mirror into one, with all the attendant weaknesses that entails.
  • The Stinger: The extended cut features a scene in which the golden crow at the end of the movie lands on a balcony next to Snow White.
  • Suddenly Shouting: Freya is a big fan of this.
  • Town Girls: The three female protagonists in The Team. Acid-tongued Brawn Hilda Bromwyn is the butch, sweet flower-loving Doreena is the femme and Emotionless Girl Sara is neither.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer shows Ravenna and Freya dying.
  • Tyke Bomb: Freya kidnaps children and trains them to become her Huntsmen.
  • The Unfair Sex: Subverted. Freya doesn't discriminate between the genders in her army. The rule is merely that no one may fall in love. It seems as though it was an inversion - killing Sara and merely throwing Eric out. But she only made Eric think Sara died, and made Sara think Eric had run off and left her.
  • Wax Museum Morgue: Victims of Freya's ice powers are posed like statues in the gallery of her castle.
  • Winter Royal Lady: Freya displays all the trappings of this trope once she comes into her power.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Despite Freya being the main antagonist, with Sara and Eric as the protagonists, Ravenna is front and centre on most of the posters.
  • Woman Scorned:
    • Freya becomes evil after her lover betrays her and kills their child. It turns out this was invoked by Ravenna.
    • Freya also exploits this when it comes to Sara. She merely makes Eric think Sara died, while she makes Sara think that Eric abandoned her.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Queen Freya has embarked on a quest to conquer the world and destroy all love, but this is born out of the loss of her child and the betrayal of the man she loved.

"And so, some fairy tales do come true. But none ever truly end."