When people gripe about Hollywood's reliance on sequels and cheap franchise cash-ins, this is the kind of movie they mean: no Grimm's Fairy Tale, but a grim tale nonetheless.
By cramming far too much material into 114 minutes, The Huntsman: Winter's War feels rushed and incomplete.
The script lifts so much plot from Disney's animated Frozen that it could qualify as a remake. No one sings "Let It Go," but my advice to audiences is to do just that.
Here's hoping that any future installment ditches the Huntsman the way that Snow White was shunted aside, because the evil queens are where it's at.
Freya is given the barest veil of a backstory while Ravenna just oozes ribbons of black bile (literally) for her own evil reasons. These women may be strong but they are never deep.
At least now we have an answer to the question, "Who's the dullest franchise of them all?"
Sampling Tolkien, Disney, and Grimm, The Huntsman: Winter's War lays on the pastiche in slabs, but no one is slouching here.
Every resonant theme or intriguing story possibility is stripped away and replaced with a ready-made franchise-movie conceit.
Nearly every major character dies and comes back to life at least once and a convoluted narrative yields not a single, palpable moment of drama.