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Di­rec­tor: Cedric Ni­co­las- Troyan ( de­but) Star­ring: Chris Hemsworth, Jes­sica Chas­tain, Emily Blunt, Char­l­ize Theron, Nick Frost, Rob Bry­don Ver­dict: And we all lived un­hap­pily ever af­ter IT’S a pre­quel, it’s a se­quel, and it’s in no way equal to the movie that came be­fore.

That movie was Snow White and the Hunts­man, a sur­pris­ingly worth­while fan­tasy ac­tion- ad­ven­ture hit from 2012.

This movie benches Ms White ( and just as im­por­tantly, the star who played her, Kris­ten Ste­wart) and subs a few new feisty fe­male play­ers into a dull and unin­spired game.

Front and cen­tre and fros­tily frowny at all times is Freya ( Emily Blunt), an ir­ri­ta­ble ice queen who has a thing against happy lov­ing cou­ples.

This is bad news for Sara ( Jes­sica Chas­tain), who’s been ranked as Freya’s top woman war­rior since the rene­gade royal fi rst started ab­duct­ing chil­dren to fi ll her fairy­tale army.

Though strictly for­bid­den from hav­ing a boyfriend, Sara has been se­cretly hook­ing up with that hunk of He- Man hot­ness The Hunts­man ( Chris Hemsworth) for many years.

Af­ter an an­gry Freya fi nds out about the il­licit aff air, she puts the re­la­tion­ship in a deep freeze, and the lovers go their sep­a­rate ways. Sara con­cen­trates on her ca­reer, which mostly in­volves car­ry­ing on like the groovy aunt of Kat­niss Everdeen ( same love of archery, same fash­ion sense). The Hunts­man wan­ders the coun­try­side with some comic- relief “lit­tle peo­ple” ( Nick Frost and Rob Bry­don), do­ing his best to for­get his ex by spoil­ing for fi ghts with Game of Thrones ex­tras and CGI gob­lins.

If the story of Win­ter’s War isn’t al­ready over­stuff ed with ex­cess fl uff , burst­ing point looms with the re­turn of the vil­lain­ous Ravenna ( Char­l­ize Theron).

Yes, she did die at the end of the last movie, but that doesn’t mat­ter any­more. What does mat­ter is that Ravenna is Freya’s older sis­ter, and she re­ally hates The Hunts­man. You know, be­cause he killed her. Kind of.

If any of this sounds like fun to you, rest as­sured that it most cer­tainly is not. That un­nec­es­sar­ily scram­bled plot is a to­tal buz­zkill mag­net. While some dire nar­ra­tion in the open­ing act sets the bar very low, not even the prom­ise of yet more “mir­ror, mir­ror on the wall” busi­ness later on can get any­thing jump­ing here.

The life­less per­for­mances of the four leads are es­pe­cially baffl ing. The only love that Hemsworth and Chas­tain’s chem­istry- free pair­ing sug­gests is a shared aff ec­tion for shonky Scot­tish ac­cents.

Blunt comes across as un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally stilted. Hav­ing to stand in the one spot so that dig­i­tal­eff ects artists can do their thing does not agree with her.

Theron fares slightly bet­ter, if only be­cause she doesn’t seem quite as in­vested in this piffl e as the oth­ers.

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