The Huntsman has had a bit of a rocky reception even before it was officially announced. Snow White and the Huntsman managed to cash in on the popularity for darkly glamorous fairy tale films while Kristen Stewart's performance in the titular role helped the movie to ride that Twilight bandwagon too. The movie was a hit, earning almost $400 million worldwide, enough for studios to start salivating over sequel opportunities. Then, scandal struck. In the midst of the furor over Stewart and director Rupert Sanders' affair, Universal made the decision to ditch both actress and director and make a prequel instead: The Huntsman.
This was a controversial decision at best. Kristen Stewart's star power was a big force behind the film's success, not to mention her role as the eponymous Snow White. Prequels are far from a safe bet - they require the audience to be interested enough in the characters and story not only to want to know what happened next, but what happened previously. The movie will focus on Chris Hemsworth's Huntsman, but as the highlights of his backstory were part of the original film's plot, many are wondering just how good The Huntsman could possibly be. Put that together with the fact that Hemsworth's character was pretty two dimensional without the depth needed to carry a whole film, and it's no wonder The Guardian has already called the prequel "pointless". Yet with Charlize Theron reprising her role as the evil Queen Ravenna, will her story be The Huntsman's saving grace?
From Ravenna To Furiosa & Back Again
Charlize Theron has always been a phenomenal actress, one somewhat overlooked by Hollywood. Before 2003's Monster caught the Academy's eye, Theron's films flew largely under the radar. She was fairly well known, but not highly sought after for blockbusters. 2012 was the year that changed, when Prometheus and Snow White were released close together, with Theron as the scene-stealing star of both. Suddenly everyone remembered how fantastic an actress Charlize Theron is, and this year's [Mad Max: Fury Road](tag:41445) only solidified Theron's position as a Hollywood A-Lister.
Mad Max was one of 2015's breakout hits, a reboot for a cult franchise that no-one expected. With its mindblowing practical effects, stunning cinematography, and surprisingly progressive social themes, Fury Road was a delight for new audiences and old fans alike.
The film focused mainly on Charlize Theron's Furiosa, as Max aided her in her quest to free the oppressed wives of Immortan Joe. And so Theron stole the show, again proving her talent and star potential. Most reviews pointed to Theron as one of Mad Max's prominent driving forces, and GQ's reaction was particularly favourable.
"The single best thing about Mad Max is Furiosa. This is Charlize’s movie, both plot-wise and charisma-wise, as Theron turns her character’s grim and implacable resolution into an awe-inspiring, galvanizing, MRA-angering force."
Charlize Theron's outstanding performance in Mad Max can only help her role in The Huntsman, but that's assuming the creative team know how to utilise her properly.
Saving The Huntsman
Chris Hemsworth is a fantastic actor. But honestly, the Huntsman is one of the most boring characters ever dreamed up. And that's kind of fantastic for Snow White & The Huntsman: every protagonist needs a love interest after all, and Hemsworth definitely fulfilled that role. One can only hope that The Huntsman gives him the character depth he sorely needs, but honestly, that's not the film we want to see. Theron has proven herself worthy again and again, and Ravenna already has a compelling story. So how can The Huntsman really grab audience's interest? More Charlize Theron, of course!
Snow White gave us a tantalising glimpse into Ravenna's past, revealing how she was stolen from her home at a tender young age to be a child bride. A traumatic experience for anyone, Ravenna managed to rise above the struggles of her youth to become the murdering, life-sucking, milk bath taking Evil Queen we all know and love. And we'd love to see more of that story.
"Do you hear that? It's the sound of battles fought and lives lost. It once pained me to know that I am the cause of such despair, but now their cries give me strength. Beauty is my power."
Of course, that's assuming Universal doesn't do a Maleficent and turn Theron's villain into a sympathetic antihero... But with Emily Blunt joining the cast as Ravenna's mysterious silver-haired companion, it looks like The Huntsman may just surprise the naysayers by having an interesting plotline after all. If there's anything these actresses know how to do, it's to provide the pure brute force of talent needed to thrust a film to success. And if nothing else, the idea of these two amazing actresses sharing a screen is enough to get us to buy tickets. (Now where's our epic crossover movie Edge Of Fury Road?!)
You can catch The Huntsman in cinemas on April 22nd 2016 but before then, be sure to tell us what you think of this prequel in the comments!