The Huntsman: Winter’s War is a 2016 American high fantasy action adventure film based on characters from the German fairy tale “Snow White” compiled by the Brothers Grimm, as well as “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen. Both a prequel and sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman, the film takes place before and after the events of the first film. The film was directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan (in his directorial debut) and written by Craig Mazin and Evan Spiliotopoulos. Reprising their roles from the first film, the cast includes Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Nick Frost and Sam Claflin, and also introduces new actors including Emily Blunt, Rob Brydon and Jessica Chastain. The film was released in the United States on April 22, 2016.
Long before her death, the evil sorceress, Queen Ravenna, (Charlize Theron) learns that her younger sister Freya (Emily Blunt) is not only engaged in an illicit affair with Andrew (Colin Morgan), the Duke of Blackwood, but is carrying his child, who is destined to become fairest of them all. Sometime after Freya gives birth to a baby girl, Freya discovers that Andrew has murdered their child and, in a grief-fueled rage, kills him with her long-suppressed ice powers.
Freya abandons the kingdom and builds herself a solitary ice palace deep in the north, murdering anyone who opposes her while amassing an army of children and training them so their hearts will be forever hardened. Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain), two of her most exceptional warriors, fall in love and plan to elope, only to learn that Freya is aware of their secret. She confronts them and creates a massive ice wall to separate them before forcing Eric to watch as Sara is killed by her fellow huntsmen.
Seven years after Ravenna’s death, Queen Snow White of Tabor falls mysteriously ill after hearing Ravenna’s Magic Mirror calling her. Because of its dark magic, she ordered it to be taken to a place known as “Sanctuary” so that its magic could be forever contained. Snow White’s husband, King William of Tabor comes across Eric and informs him that the Magic Mirror was taken while en route to its destination. Eric reluctantly sets off with Snow White’s dwarf ally Nion (Nick Frost) and his half-brother Gryff (Rob Brydon) to find the Magic Mirror. Eric becomes aware that Freya has been secretly observing their conversation through a mask that projects her consciousness in the form of a Snowy owl, and he destroys it.
While en route, the trio are attacked by a legion of Freya’s huntsmen, but are rescued by Sara who is revealed to have been alive the entire time. Sara believes she saw Eric run away from the palace and feels betrayed by him. Eric concludes her death was a vision conjured by Freya in order to trick him. Freya made them both see what she wanted them to see. He reveals that he never stopped loving Sara and they agree to work together. Sometime later, the quartet is ensnared in a trap laid out by female dwarves Bromwyn (Sheridan Smith) and Doreena (Alexandra Roach). They convince the female dwarves to help find the Mirror.
The group reaches the Sanctuary and they defeat the goblins who possess the Magic Mirror only to be ambushed by Freya. Freya reveals that Sara was just using them to find the mirror the entire time. In the chaos that follows, Nion and Doreena are turned into ice statues and Sara fires an arrow into Eric’s chest at Freya’s order. Freya departs with the Magic Mirror, but she is unaware that Sara intentionally shot the arrow at a medallion she gave Eric long before, and that he is still alive.
Meanwhile, Freya approaches the Mirror and recites a spell asking the mirror who is fairest of them all.The mirror replies by causing a golden liquid to emerge and transform into Ravenna. Ravenna reveals that she sent her spirit into the Mirror before Snow White took her life and that she was trapped within until Freya broke her free.
Meanwhile, Eric has infiltrated the icy kingdom with help of Gryff and Bromwyn. He attempts to murder Freya, but is stopped by Ravenna. When Freya realizes that Sara hadn’t actually killed Eric, she sentences them both to death because of Ravenna’s influence. However, Eric is able to convince a few huntsmen to fight against Ravenna and Freya, claiming the love of brethren. After this, Ravenna begins killing many of the huntsmen. Freya, realizes that she loves her huntsmen and forms an ice wall between the huntsmen and the sisters. As the remaining huntsmen climb over the wall, the two sisters argue over the icy kingdom. Freya discovers that Ravenna cursed Andrew into murdering her child rather than risk someone being more beautiful than she. Freya is filled with fury at this and turns against her sister, joining forces with Eric and Sara. Freya is fatally wounded, but not before she freezes the magic mirror, as Eric throws his axe, breaking the mirror and destroying Ravenna’s spirit. As she dies, Freya witnesses Eric and Sara together and states they are “lucky” and then succumbs to her wounds.
As the kingdom’s inhabitants and huntsmen celebrate their victory, Eric and Sara kiss as they can now be together while Doreena and Nion, and Gryff and Bromwyn, confess their love to each other. Meanwhile, a mysterious golden bird flies overhead, hinting that Ravenna’s spirit still lives.
Chris Hemsworth as Eric, the Huntsman Conrad Khan as young Eric
Charlize Theron as Queen Ravenna, Snow White’s evil stepmother
Emily Blunt as Freya, the Ice Queen, Ravenna’s sister
Jessica Chastain as Sara, the Warrior, Eric’s lover Niamh Walter as young Sara
Nick Frost as Nion, a Dwarf who previously helped Eric and Snow White defeat Ravenna’s army
Sam Claflin as King William, Snow White’s husband who helped her and Eric defeat Ravenna’s army
Rob Brydon as Gryff, A debt-collecting Dwarf who is Nion’s half-brother
Alexandra Roach as Doreena, a shy and gentle Dwarf and Nion’s love interest
Sheridan Smith as Bromwyn, a feisty and greedy Dwarf who becomes allies with Nion and Gryff
Sope Dirisu as Tull, a fellow Huntsman
Colin Morgan as Andrew, the Duke of Blackwood, Freya’s lover
Fred Tatasciore as the voice of Mirror Man, the physical form of the Magic Mirror
Madeleine Worrall as Eric’s mother
Sam Hazeldine as Liefr
Sophie Cookson as Pippa
Kristen Stewart as Queen Snow White. Stewart appears through the use of archive footage, though her character is referenced many times throughout the film.
Liam Neeson as the Narrator