Putting the freeze on fun
How do you make a Snow White sequel without Snow White? You add two A-list female stars, get Thor and Furiosa back on board – and hope noone will notice.
Fours years on from the overlong, unforgivably dull Snow White and the Huntsman, focus turns to Chris Hemsworth’s axe-wielding warrior, his forbidden lover Sara ( Jessica Chastain) and evil sisters Freya (Emily Blunt) and Ravenna (Charlize Theron).
On paper, co-writers Evan Spiliotopoulos and Craig Mazin look like an ideal duo to inject more warmth, magic and humour into proceedings this time – the latter having penned several Disney animated sequels, the former contributing to The Hangover and Scary Movie follow-ups.
Alas, it’s more of the same in a second adventure that rarely rises above the mediocrity of its predecessor, and clearly rides the Frozen bandwagon with similarly chilly-themed shenanigans involving duelling sisters.
Thankfully, those scenery-chewing siblings are played with gusto and gravitas by Blunt and the returning Theron. Ravenna, in particular, delivers a welcome dose of malicious, poisonous villainy, and Freya’s tragedy-infused back story makes her descent into wickedness even more agonising.
As it turns out, Kirsten Stewart’s Snow White isn’t really missed at all as Chastain’s fearless heroine is much greater company, even though she and Hemsworth are saddled with distractingly dodgy Celtic brogue accents.
Hemsworth does what he does best – flexes his muscles, swings a mighty weapon and drops in the odd smile-raising one-liner. Not for the first time, though, the Aussie is outshone by most of his co-stars.
Cedric Nicolas-Troyan moves from the first film’s visual effects department to replacing Rupert Sanders behind the camera for his cinematic directorial debut and takes an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to the aesthetics.
As well as resurrecting Ravenna’s glorious gold manipulation and ability to take out an army with her powers, Freya’s ice storms would have Mr Freeze scampering to find a radiator, and the Goblin King is worthy of a place in Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth. Cutting back the dwarves from seven to four gives them a greater chance to shine, especially cast newbies Rob Brydon (Gryff) and Sheridan Smith (Mrs Bromwyn).
Much to enjoy, then, but once again it’s too long – the pace sagging big time in the middle – and there’s too much focus on wordy flashbacks that create a confusing, messy timeline. And setting up yet another sequel? Sure to create a real winter of discontent.
Chilly reception Emily Blunt stars as the Ice Queen