Story

The Huntsman: Winter’s War is a prequel to the 2012 film Snow White and the Huntsman. Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) uses evil magic to kill the king and steal his kingdom which she then rules with her sister Freya (Emily Blunt). Unlike Ravenna, Freya has yet to show any sign of magical talent. When a personal tragedy results in Freya discovering her magical ability, she is transformed into the Ice Queen. She then leaves her sister’s kingdom and builds her own kingdom in the north.

Freya invades the lands surrounding her kingdom, killing the enemy armies and capturing the children who she trains as her huntsmen. Two of the young captives are Eric and Sara who soon become Freya’s best huntsmen. Seven years pass and Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain) are now adults. They have fallen in love with each other, which is against the Queen’s laws. Eric and Sara decide to escape the Ice Queen’s rule and live their own lives, but the Ice Queen learn of their plans to escape. She then uses her magic to fool each of them into thinking the other was lost.

More years pass and we learn that Snow White has defeated Ravenna and that the magic mirror has been lost. When the Ice Queen learns this, she sends her own huntsmen to find the magic mirror and bring it to her. Meanwhile, Eric has been ordered by the king to find the mirror before it can fall into the wrong hands.

Themes

Fairy tales; magic; the murder of a child; the kidnapping of children; training children as soldiers  

Violence

The Huntsman: Winter’s War contains fantasy action violence, violence enacted against children (including the murder of an infant), violence enacted by children against children, and some blood and gore (although very few realistic consequences). For example:

  • Freya sees a castle tower on fire and runs towards it. She bursts into a room and finds the smoking charred remains of her baby’s cradle. The child’s father is found next to the cradle and admits to killing the child.
  • Freya uses magic to encase a man in ice. We see the ice encase the man’s body, forming an ice statue which shatters into thousands of tiny pieces. She treats several people in this way throughout the film.
  • Several brief scenes feature soldiers rampaging through villages burning homes. We see soldiers knocking children to the ground, see a soldier pick up a young boy by the front of his shirt and pin him against a wall and hear the sound of children screaming in the background. One soldier stands over a victim lying on the ground and raises his sword into the air and then brings it down in a brutal stabbing motion. The killing occurs off screen.
  • There are scenes of prison wagons crowded with frightened, whimpering young children.
  • The Ice Queen cups a young boy’s face in her hands, squeezing his cheeks together in a threatening manner. Frost forms on the boy’s cheeks and her fingers leave burns on his face.
  • Several scenes show young children fighting each other in training matches. They use their fists and feet to punch and kick each other. Children are also involved in fights with knives, swords and other weapons.
  • A man and woman (huntsmen) are surrounded and attacked by soldiers. The woman is punched in the face and then brutally stabbed in the back with a sword; we see an image of the woman pinned against a blood-soaked sheet of ice. The man is knocked unconscious with a club to the head and his limp body is thrown into a fast flowing river.
  • In one scene a woman attacks a group of soldiers. There is a lot of spinning kicks and stylised fighting. She shoots a soldier through the hand with an arrow, stabs another through his shoulder with her sword and then severs a man’s hand from his wrist.
  • In one scene, black tendrils ooze out from the Wicked Queen’s body and form spear-like weapons that slash out, impaling a number of soldiers; no blood and gore are depicted. Ravenna also stabs her sister through the shoulder with a spear-like tendril. In return the Ice Queen slashes her sister’s throat and instead of blood, gold pours out of the wound.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, The Huntsman: Winter’s War contains many scenes that could scare or disturb children under the age of eight. For example:

  • One scene shows dozens of decomposed bodies overgrown with vegetation.
  • There are goblins with demon-like faces and ram-like horns, sharp pointy teeth and ape-like bodies; they swing through the trees and move like apes.
  • A woman’s bare back is covered in scars from being whipped.
  • In one scene there is a field littered with hundreds of dead soldiers after a battle. They have blood and dirt smeared over their faces. A man says ‘None were left alive.’
  • Wolves feed on the bodies of dead soldiers. 
  • In one scene we see what appears like liquid gold pouring out of a magic mirror. The gold flows onto the floor and then rises up into the air to form a golden statue of a woman. Gold flakes fall from the statue to reveal a human woman underneath. 
  • When the Wicked Queen is killed she transforms into a golden statue that shatters and falls to the ground. Her head rolls along the ground.    

From 8-13

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.

Over 13

Younger children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.

Sexual references

The Huntsman: Winter’s War contains some sexual references. For example:

  • There is a reference to a woman carrying another man’s child.
  • A dwarf says something unheard to a woman, who promptly pours a mug of ale over his head. We hear the dwarf say ‘I’ll take that as a no.’
  • A male dwarf says female dwarves are ‘horrible’, and that babies are made by accident.     
  • A woman tells a man that he can take off his shirt and prance around with her.  
  • A woman refers to a couple being in love, saying that they reek of it. 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

The Huntsman: Winter’s War shows some characters drinking alcohol and has references to drinking too much.

Nudity and sexual activity

The Huntsman: Winter’s War has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • We see a man and woman naked in a pool of water and they kiss passionately. The woman places a woven necklace around the man’s neck and when he asks her what she is doing she replies ‘Marrying you.’ This is followed by more passionate kissing.
  • In several scenes we see women wearing low cut tops that reveal some cleavage and bare backs and shoulders.

Product placement

None of concern

Coarse language

The Huntsman: Winter’s war contains some coarse language and insults.

Ideas to discuss with your children

The Huntsman: Winter’s war is an action fantasy which is likely to appeal to fans of Snow White and the Huntsman. The film is likely to appeal to teenagers and even tweens but has many violent and scary scenes, and confronting themes which include children as soldiers and children being kidnapped and killed. It is definitely not recommended for viewers under 13, with parental guidance recommended for 13 to 15 year olds.

The main message from this movie is that love makes us stronger and can conquer all.

Parents may wish to discuss the way in which the film omits real life consequences resulting from the violent acts depicted in the film. Minimal blood, gore and injuries are depicted. Does this glamorise violence and give viewers a false understanding of the real life consequences of violent acts?