The Real Hero of The Huntsman: Winter's War
One thing that has become clear about my taste in movies, as I've been excessively talking about movies for In the Movies... for over a year now, is that I am all about the visuals. I described my favorite movies for my birthday episode of the podcast in terms of what they look like and I love to rewatch movies that I know have sub-par stories but are just so pretty. So, you can only imagine my excitement when the trailers, ads, and marketing for The Huntsman: Winter's War started to appear in my Internet realm. (If you follow me on social media, then you saw the effects of this, even after I saw the movie. Dat Snapchat filter doe!) I had seen Snow White and the Huntsman because I never miss a fairy tale movie, but this golden Ravenna gave me hearts eyes in ways that she had never before. (Have I mentioned I really love gold?) I was all about that gold, those powerful queens, the magic, and the fairy tale. No surprise then that as the theatrical release date approached, I entered every advance screening contest I could find, several times. (Insider tip: Use all those emails you made for your podcasts and YouTube channels to enter contests more than once.) And no surprise, since I obviously saw the movie, that I won passes to see my queens two days earlier than the rest of movie-goers.
According to the trailers and unskippable YouTube ads, I was in for 2 hours of royal sibling rivalry, ice vs. gold, vengeance & revenge.. Oh, and the Huntsman is in love with a ginger warrior chick or whatever. Before seeing the film, I pondered the filmmakers'/studio's decision to name the movie after the Huntsman, if the Queens were taking center stage. After seeing the movie, I understood that the title was more accurate to telling us who the star of the movie was than the marketing campaign. The prequel part of the movie gives us back stories for both of our queens (and the Huntsman & his wife), but then we skip ahead to after the events of Snow White and begin the Huntsman's adventure. (Yes, this movie is a prequel and a sequel. Yes, you should watch Snow White and the Huntsman before so you know what happens. Or maybe right in the middle to keep events chronological.)
I went into this movie with my own personal hero of the movie already picked out. Every movie's got to have that one character with whom I connect. I thought I would be team Ravenna all damn day, but since she’s barely in the movie, I had to look to the other women for my heroine. The next obvious choice would be the other queen, icy Freya, but her story of loss and desire for children didn’t appeal to me strongly. Well, then of course I’ll have to get on board team Sarah, the ginger warrior who never misses with her bow and arrow. But her love story, betrayal, and snarky attitude didn’t drawn me in either. But, that’s all the women advertised for this movie, who else could there be for me? Enter: the lady dwarves. Described before we even see them by male dwarves as less-than-desireable to look upon, the two lady dwarves swoop in unexpectedly to this adventure to save the day and save my search for a female relatable character/role model/fave. Mrs. Bromwyn is a Boss. Ass. Bitch. She has no problem telling the male dwarves where to stick it and no problem telling the Huntsman where she’d like him to stick it. ;) She's full of good ideas, ambition, knowledge, and clever quips. She is my hero and the reason I will watch this movie again.
In the flawed movie (Yes, it's beautiful but the poorly thought-out plot is the reason for it's low MetaCritic score), having a solid character to hold onto, like Mrs. Bromwyn, is the kind of thing that makes otherwise lackluster movies rewatchable. Unfortunately, this movie lost even that when they wrapped up everything with their idea of a "happy ending" for everyone. This isn't just about my personal aversion to "happy endings" (Not the TV show- that show is praise hands emojis all damn day.) where everything gets wrapped up in a tidy bow, everyone's paired off, and happily ever after is strongly implied. No, this isn't about everyone's happy endings, this is about a betrayal of character. My beloved Mrs. Bromwyn meets a fate worse than death (in my very biased opinion).
Mrs. Bromwyn spends their adventure turning down advances from Rob Bryden’s dwarf, Gryff. The other two dwarfs (one male, one female) start a very sweet romance (and deserve an “awwww” and their happy ending). And so begins the cliché of the friends of the new couple being paired off as well. Several times when the adorable couple kiss or make goo-goo eyes at each other, Gryff will lean in to Mrs. Bromwyn and she will, in her trademark snark, rebuff him while he pouts and says he didn’t like her anyway. That ol' gem. Several times in the movie this joke is used. She even shoots him down before he can make the move he’s thinking about. It’s obvious she has no interest in him and states it clearly, if amusingly for the audience. This makes him a bit of a jerk, or maybe just plain stupid, for continuing to try. (Respect a lady’s "No"!) But it’s all in good fun as she stands her ground and he never forces himself on her physically. In the final scene after the queens are vanquished, the town is celebrating, our couples are coupling, he tries one more time for a lil sumthin’ from this irresistible lady dwarf and she rebuffs him same as always. He sighs and gives up. Good. But then... (Nooooo!)
She follows it up with “Are you gonna give up that easily?” and confused Gryff is brought in for a forceful kiss from Mrs. Bromwyn. And I let out an “Awwww!” No- not a cute “Awwwww” like the other dwarf couple deserves but a disappointed “Awwww, come on, that’s not what should happen!” Firstly, it ruins her character and everything I’ve learned about her in this movie to find out she didn’t mean what she was saying/doing this whole time. Secondly, DANGER! DANGER! to ~*Society*~ to put this bad, terrible, idea out there that no sometimes means yes?!? What are people to think when a woman repeatedly says "No" to a man, only to find out that the whole time she just wanted him to try harder and go after her anyway. That’s so dangerous! I’m sure some people (women in particular) play this game of “prove to me you want it” but to give men (in particular) the idea that “no” doesn’t mean “no” it means “try harder” and “Do it anyway because I really mean yes” is dangerous. Not just that things could get physcially dangerous if a man went too far with this mentality and no amount of “no” would stop him, but it’s dangerous mentally/emotionally for people to be sending mixed/opposite signals like that. Ugh, mind games. I’m just 100% honesty when it comes to any type of relationship, because you can’t get what you want unless you ask for it! Say what you mean and mean what you say, ladies and gentlemen!
This could be a much longer discussion on this “no means yes” problem, but my point is just for the sake of this character. My beloved Mrs. Bromwyn. I loved her because she stuck up for herself and said “No” and meant it. They blew it with the character, and they blew it with the ending. Mrs. Bromwyn was so much more than comic relief to me, but I guess that’s what she boiled down to for the writers, since they made a joke of her in the end.
After all my disappointment in the happy endings, I was given one golden sliver of hope- it is implied that Ravenna may not be gone forever...