Putting the freeze on fun

Rutherglen Reformer - - The Ticket -

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

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