The Huntsman: Winter’s War appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Though not stellar, the image seemed very good.
Overall sharpness worked well. A little softness materialized in some interiors, but those instances didn’t become a prominent issue. Instead, the movie usually appeared accurate and concise, without shimmering, jaggies or edge haloes. Print flaws also remained absent.
Like most modern action flicks, War opted for teal and orange. These tones tended to be subdued – especially in ice-based shots, where the blues became fairly desaturated. The colors fit the story. Blacks were dark and deep, while shadows showed pretty good clarity. The image lived up to expectations.
As for the movie’s DTS-X soundtrack – which downconverted to DTS-HD MA 7.1 on my system – it added kick to the proceedings. As expected, we got a lot of action, and those sequences contributed a good sense of involvement and activity. Battle elements swarmed around the room in a satisfying manner that created a nice sense of place and environment.
Audio quality also succeeded. Music sounded lively and full, while dialogue appeared natural and concise. Effects appeared accurate and dynamic, with good range and low-end punch. This became a consistently positive soundtrack.
The disc includes two versions of Winter’s War. We get the Theatrical Cut (1:53:52) as well as an Extended Cut (2:00:10). How do these differ?
The first added sequence doesn’t appear until the 26:52 mark – and it becomes the single most significant change to the Extended Cut. In this piece, we see the transport of the Magic Mirror and how Eric combats wildlife poachers. At nearly three and a half minutes, this bit fill more than half of the EC’s changes, but that doesn’t make it especially interesting. It’s not a bad scene but I think it’s superfluous.
As for the rest, I counted six added tidbits. These provide brief extensions of existing scenes and tend to seem less than useful. While not bad on their own, none of them feel necessary.
In my estimation, both versions of the film come with the same impact. I don’t think the additions to the Extended Cut harm it, but I also don’t feel that the alterations help the movie in any obvious way. This seems like a “six of one, half-dozen of the other” circumstance.
Note that the Extended Cut includes a post-credits tag that doesn’t appear in the theatrical version. I didn’t count that as one of the added scenes mentioned above.
Alongside both cuts of the film, we get an audio commentary from director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan. He offers a running, screen-specific look at set design and locations, cast and performances, editing and changes for the extended cut, various effects, costumes and music, action and stunts, and related topics.
After a very slow start, Nicolas-Troyas picks up the pace and delivers a pretty good chat. He covers a nice array of subjects and does so in a peppy, engaging manner. The director makes this a positive overview of the production – and he might offer the first-ever reference to UHD Blu-ray in a commentary!
Four Deleted Scenes run a total of eight minutes, 55 seconds. We see “Freya Says Goodbye to Ravenna” (0:52), “Young Eric and Sara Fight” (2:21), “Eric Finds Passage to Hidden Forest” (3:18) and “Freya Beats Ravenna in Chess” (2:26). These tend to offer minor character extensions but none of them stand out as particularly strong.
We can view these scenes with or without commentary from Nicolas-Troyan. He gives us some notes about the shots as well as why he cut them. Nicolas-Troyan adds useful insights.
A Gag Reel fills nine minutes, 43 seconds. Much of this offers the usual goofs and giggles, but a few more interesting moments arise, such as when we hear Charlize Theron’s kid throw an off-camera tantrum.
Winter’s Vistas: The Making of The Huntsman: Winter’s War splits into five subdomains: “Two Queens and Two Warriors” (7:22), “Meet the Dwarfs” (8:10), “Magic All Around” (8:44), “Dressed to Kill” (6:03) and “Love Conquers All” (5:58). Across these, we hear from Nicolas-Troyan, executive producer Sarah Bradshaw, visual effects supervisor Paul Lambert, prop master David Cheesman, sculptor Codrina Sparatu, motion capture supervisor Simon Kay, costume designer Colleen Atwood, producer Joe Roth, and actors Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain, Sope Dirisu, Rob Brydon, Nick Frost, Sheridan Smith, and Alexandra Roach.
The featurettes cover cast and performances, sets and locations, props and various effects, costumes, and the atmosphere on the set. “Vistas” includes some good footage from the set and the occasional insight, but the clips tend to be pretty fluffy. They’re still worth a look but they don’t offer much depth.
The disc opens with ads for Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. Free State of Jones, April and the Extraordinary World, and Mother’s Day. No trailer for War appears here.
A second disc provides a DVD copy of War. It includes the commentary, the deleted scenes, the gag reel and two of the five “Vistas” segments. It also features both the Theatrical and Extended cuts of the film.
After the dreary dullness of Snow White and the Huntsman, I hoped The Huntsman: Winter’s War might work better. It does, but not in a radical manner, so it remains a movie without much spirit or heart. The Blu-ray offers very good picture and audio as well as a decent set of supplements. War continues the Snow White franchise on a mediocre note.