10 Questions Left Unanswered by The Huntsman: Winter’s War

There is a very straightforward fairy tale story in The Huntsman: Winter’s War, but it takes place in a world that makes little sense.
By  · Published on April 22nd, 2016

If you want to better appreciate the return of Game of Thrones this Sunday, I recommend spending some time this weekend watching The Huntsman: Winter’s War, as it will make the HBO series look even better. But I also rather enjoyed the funny new follow-up to 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman — it’s both a prequel and a sequel, overlapping that fairy tale reimagining — though I admit it’s just dumb entertainment to tide us over. It’s not nearly as bad as the consensus of reviews would have you believe, however, and certainly not as confusing as some specific critics claim.

The plot itself is indeed convoluted but it’s actually pretty easy to follow. It’s only the franchise’s world building that lacks clarity. There are inconsistencies between the two installments of this Huntsman series as well as problems within the new film on its own. Such design flaws are where most of this week’s batch of Unanswered Questions come from (sorry, anyone expecting me to ask “Why even continue without Kristen Stewart/Snow White?” and “What were all these talented actresses thinking?”). Join me in trying to find the logic in these apparent mistakes with the following inquiry:

Where’s Finn?

If you’re actually a fan of the first movie, this question has been on your mind since the casting stage. But given the confusion up until its release whether Winter’s War was a prequel or sequel, Sam Spruell’s absence didn’t signal too much concern. After all, his character, Finn, died in SWatH. But in that movie he’s the brother of Ravenna (Charlize Theron), so why isn’t he in the first part of the new movie, which is set earlier and deals with Ravenna and her sister? Perhaps he was just out of town then. Even if Spruell wasn’t interested in making even a Sam Claflin-size return, Finn should have been at least acknowledged.

Why Did Finn Say He Killed Sara?

Sorry to stick with details regarding an apparently disposable character and a question that’s retroactively more to do with the previous movie, but in SWatH, Finn takes credit for the death of Sara (Jessica Chastain now-embodied character). In THWW we learn that she’s not only alive and has just been imprisoned for so many years but that Eric (Chris Hemsworth) was deceived into thinking he saw her killed, and it was at the hands of another. Maybe Finn just lied to make Eric angry, though that backfired since Eric was so angry he killed Finn as a result. Or the writers forgot that part or hoped we forgot it.

How Does Freya Stay Young?

A few decades pass from the start of the new movie to its end. We meet the sisters Ravenna and Freya (Emily Blunt) then move ahead a few years before we’re introduced to Eric as a kid (Conrad Khan), jump to the character in his 30s and then again go forward seven years to the movie’s primary setting. And the sisters don’t age during that time. We know from SWatH that Ravenna drains the youth of teenage girls to keep herself fresh and beautiful, but what is Freya’s secret? Is she doing the same and we just don’t see it? Do her child recruits actually advance quicker than we think while she drains just some of their youth? That’d explain her youthfulness and also put the time span as shorter.

Why Are Freya’s Soldiers All “Huntsmen”?

Besides it allowing for some jokes about Eric’s known identity as “The Huntsman,” why are Freya’s soldiers, men and women, all called huntsmen? Are they meant to use hunting skills in their battles against other kingdoms? That’s not spelled out, if so. Also, why would Eric keep going by that term when he escaped to the South lands when he was no longer aligned with that army? And does nobody in the South know about the Huntsmen army dominating the lands in the North? Ravenna should know at the very least, right? Or did she not keep tabs at all on what her sister has been doing since she fled so long ago?

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.