The inclusion of British comedy stalwarts Rob Brydon and Nick Frost save this wafer-thin prequel/sequel to 2012’s relatively successful hit Snow White and the Huntsman from being a nightmare.
The always amiable Chris Hemsworth shines in a few impressive fight scenes as axe-wielding hero Eric, but it’s generally the comic relief from Brydon and Frost’s dwarves – alongside support from new national treasure Sheridan Smith – that helps it through its tepid concept.
Kristen Stewart’s Snow White is pretty much white-washed to flashbacks as the famed mirror is stolen and is courted by Emily Blunt’s vengeful ice queen Freya – a kind of maniacal adult version of Frozen’s Elsa – who is sister of now-dead evil former queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron).
In events ‘before’ the first film, Freya sets up a Huntsman army to rule the ‘north’ kingdom, including Eric and his sharp-shooting forbidden warrior lover Sara (Jessica Chastain) – but when the lovers try to leave after years of bloody service to their queen they are left for dead.
Years later the still mourning Eric – as we switch to events ‘beyond’ the original film – is then tasked by the mysteriously anonymous Snow White to locate the mirror and prevent Freya from getting her icy mitts on the one instrument that will give her total domination over the lands.
Despite Winter War’s being a bit of a narrative mess, a few nice twists and some notable comedic touches do just about enough to make it pretty much watchable throughout, but more really should have been expected – particularly with the talent of the cast on hand.
That ultimately means this fairy tale spin-off won’t linger in the memory too long after bedtime. Rating: 2/5 Gavin Miller