Australian Council on Children and the Media

Huntsman: Winter's war, The

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Not recommended under 13, parental guidance strongly recommended 13 to 15 (Violence; Disturbing scenes and themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Huntsman: Winter's war, The
  • a review of Huntsman: Winter's war, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 11 April 2016.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to violence, and disturbing scenes and themes
Children 13 to 15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Huntsman: Winter's war, The
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Fantasy violence
Length 114 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The Huntsman: Winter’s War begins as a prequel to the 2012 film Snow White and the Huntsman. Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) uses evil magic to kill the king and then 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, 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 year pass and Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain) are now adults and, against the Queen's laws, have fallen in love with each other. 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 and 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. The Ice Queen has learnt of the loss of the mirror and has sent her own huntsmen to find it and return it to her. Meanwhile Eric has been ordered by the king to find the mirror before it can fall into the wrong hands.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

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

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film 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). Examples include:

  • 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. A man is found next to the cradle (the child’s father) 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, staves, axes, swords, and bows and arrows. 
  • A man and woman (huntsmen) are surround 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 and we see lots of stylised fighting, spinning kicks etc. 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.       

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are many scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • a number of scenes of small naked pixie-like creatures.
  • images of dozens of decomposed bodies overgrown with vegetation.
  • scenes of goblins with demon-like faces with ram-like horns, sharp pointy teeth and ape-like bodies; they swing through the trees and move like apes
  • a woman’s bare back covered in scars from being whipped.
  • a field littered with hundreds of dead soldiers the result of a battle. They have blood and dirt smeared over their faces. A man says “None were left alive”.  
  • wolves feeding 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.    

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

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

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

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

Product placement

Nothing of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • 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 makes reference to female dwarves as being “horrible”, saying 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.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • 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 cleavage, bare backs and shoulders.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • social drinking of ale and references to drinking too much

Coarse language

There are some coarse language and insults in this movie, including:

  • bloody hell; god no; piss off ; bugger me, kiss my arse, shit box
  • weak; stupid; idiot; spineless; monkey slug; ugly; pathetic 

In a nutshell

The Huntsman: Winter’s war is an action fantasy which is likely to appeal to fans of the 2012 film, 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?    

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