The Huntsman: Winter’s War has released with an extended cut on both 4K UHD and Blu-ray, and continues (and leads into) Snow White and the Huntsman from 2012. Under new direction, this sequel brings back several important characters, but is missing Snow White. So can a take on the Snow White mythos thrive without the leading lady herself?
The Movie (4.5/5)
As mentioned above, The Huntsman: Winter’s War is both a prequel and a sequel. The film takes a longer look on the huntsman’s early days when he was brought up and trained by Queen Freya (Emily Blunt). We learn more about the Queen as well, about how she once was in love but lost her faith in that idea when she lost her child. This of course sends her on to amass a large and powerful army of huntsmen who control a territory that is only rivaled by that of her sister, Ravenna (who you of course know from Snow White and the Huntsman, played by Charlize Theron). Freya’s one hatred is love, and she will stop at nothing to rid the world of this emotion.
So this takes us to the point in the timeline where Snow White and the Huntsman takes place. If you haven’t seen that movie yet, you should probably give it a watch before taking on Winter’s War, but as a reminder for those who haven’t seen it in a bit, we see a retelling of Snow White where a huntsman named Eric (Chris Hemsworth) takes on and kills Ravenna and saves Snow White from an untimely demise for being the most fair in the land. I should mention here that Eric was formerly a huntsman of Freya, but was banished for falling in love.
Boom, and now we begin the real tale that is Winter’s War. After Ravenna was defeated, the magic mirror was stolen while it was en route to a safe haven. Freya gets word of the mirror and desperately seeks it for the power that it can grant her. One thing leads to another and Eric is reunited with his former love as they hunt down the mirror before the Queen can get her hands on it. But once the mirror is found, Ravenna comes back to wreck havoc on everything.
I was actually quite nervous going into this film. Snow White and the Huntsman was alright, better than I was expecting. To be honest, these sorts of movies make me wary, because they often fall flat. I can see why people wouldn’t like the series, but for me the jokes just work. They scatter a lot of somewhat crass humor throughout that keeps me entertained, and the action scenes are quite good. Plus it’s always fun to see Chris Hemsworth kick a little ass.
The Picture 4.5/5
Huntsman: Winter’s War has a really good mix of dark and light scenes that do a great job of displaying the range of colors and contrast that benefit from more pixels on screen. This is visible in the difference between the 4K and blu-ray releases. Both look fantastic, but when comparing them you can definitely notice more details and more vibrant colors on 4K.
Colors. I want to touch on them in more depth here. Winter’s War does this really awesome thing where it covers both high contrasting bright scenes with Freya’s ice magic and the beautiful colors of the forest. I really applaud this film’s range here, and it really made an impression on me.
The Sound 5/5
Featuring a Master Audio 7.1 channel surround track, Winter’s War is as exciting sounding as it is visually appealing. The music surrounds you in a well designed sound space, as do the sound effects and action sequences. The spoken lines never get lost in the mix and are always easily heard, even amidst some of the louder action scenes. As you watch this film, listen to the scenes in the rain, as they are especially fun to listen to.
The Features & Packaging 4/5
Both the 4K and blu-ray releases come with slipcovers, which is always welcome. The 4K includes the UHD disc with some nice art on it, and a blu-ray disc with the standard blue title on it. The standard blu-ray release features the same blu-ray that is included in the 4K set with a gold covered DVD. Each release comes with a UV code and a code for a second digital movie, courtesy of Universal.
All of the special features appear on both releases, with the only one making its way onto the UHD disc being a Director’s commentary with Cedric Nicolas-Troyan. The rest of the supplements are found on the blu-ray in each package and include:
- Deleted Scenes with Commentary
- Gag Reels
- Two Queens and Two Warriors
- Meet the Dwards
- Magic All Around (visual effects)
- Dressed to Kill
- Love Conquers All (behind the scenes with cast)
Between the featurettes and gag reels, there is a little over an hour of extras, which is always nice. Too many blu-ray releases are coming out with little to nothing in the way of supplements, so it is always appreciated to have multiple different and varied items on the list. While these are mostly standard “making of” and behind the scenes bits, they are interesting if you want more.
The Verdict 4/5
If you enjoyed Snow White and the Huntsman, then you are most certainly going to enjoy The Huntsman: Winter’s War. The two movies have a similar style and the sense of humor will keep adults and children entertained. If you haven’t caught the first one, or were on the fence after seeing it, I would still say this one warrants looking into. It was a surprisingly enjoyable film that would be good for older children as well.
Obviously the preferred format will be 4K, as it includes the blu-ray disc for those who haven’t upgraded yet, but for anyone with the TV to display it, the move looks great at 4K. However, if you are still in the DVD camp, the standard release may be enough for you. You can check out both releases here and here.
Note: This Blu Ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.