The Huntsman: Winter’s War/Midnight Special reviews

 
 I all but slept through 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman, partly because I’d been to the midnight screening of Prometheus a few hours earlier and partly because it was so dull. 

The fact it starred Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth, two of my favourite thesps and still made me nod of was an indication of how mediocre it was. 

So four years later I was far from desperate to see the prequel/sequel, and given the woeful reviews, went in expecting another two hours of dullness. 

However, with Hemsworth, Theron, Jessica Chastain, Emily Blunt, Nick Frost, Rob Brydon and Sheridan Smith on board, there was plenty of high calibre talent involved. And to my surprise turned out to be a fun, engaging pantomime with a touch of Frozen filtered through the lens of The Lord of the Rings. 

  
Starting with a prequel to SWATH, we fast forward past events from that movie and the meat of the film which sees the eponymous warrior and his mission to usurp the evil ice queen (Blunt) and retrieve the magic mirror from film one. 

The gags are funny, the set design impressive and though the action scenes a little too frenetic, it knits together well. 

The CGI effects are annoying, clearly rendered by an army of uninspired keyboard wizards. But it scarcely matters. 

  
While no fantasy classic, there are enough lavish set pieces to make it worthwhile. 
Midnight Special

Imagine a road movie with a Close Encounters vibe but all the cast had been told their best friend had just died. That’s the tone of Midnight Special, a slow, sombre, occasionally annoying Twilight Zone-style adventure which sets out an intriguing Akira-like premise (gifted lad on the run with a few guardians) but drags through a yawnsome second act. Okay there is one shock moment that wakes you up, and a great scene at a gas station, but on the whole it attracts more Zs than a dictionary-compiler’s final chapter. 

  
Yet the likes of Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst and Joel Edgerton ensured I stayed with it the whole time the trio in front of me were checking their phones and discussing every scene. 

By the third act I was craving the ’special’ element, fearing I had been sold a dud, and remarkably it was something to wow at. I’ll not reveal it here, but safe to say it pays off. 

A great score helped but the whole thing was so earnest it hurt. Nice to see Adam Driver adding a little levity, but it needed more to work. Great punchline but the set up was a trial. 

Had I seen it at the eponymous time I’d have been asleep after half an hour. 

  
Jaeden Lieberher is quite rightly the star of the show as the young lad at the heart of the drama, but at 1hr 52, this is a good 20 mins too long. There’s just not enough story to justify the running time. 

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