Mirror, mirror on the wall, was anybody asking for a prequel to “Snow White and the Huntsman?”

And hey mirror, while we’re at it, was it your idea to cut out Snow White and just leave us with the Huntsman?

However it happened, here’s “The Huntsman: Winter’s War,” a lifeless slog through the events that led up to the 2012 hit film. Or maybe it’s a slog around them, as Snow White is talked about plenty on screen, but Kristen Stewart is nowhere to be seen. (Perhaps her mirror offered her some sound career advice.)

Here we catch up with Charlize Theron as evil queen Raveena and her sister Queen Freya (Emily Blunt), whose ability to manipulate ice and snow will be familiar to anyone who has seen “Frozen.”

Freya is vehemently anti-love and forbids it in her kingdom. So when Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain) — two soldiers she has raised since childhood to be her loyal army — fall in love, Freya chases them from her kingdom.

Hemsworth, only showing glimpses of his self-effacing charm, has no spark with Chastain, and they’re locked in a forced tug-of-war most of the film. They’re joined on their journey back to the kingdom by two dwarves (Nick Frost and Rob Brydon) who are to comic relief what Theron is to most of the film: noticeably absent.

Director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, working with special effects that barely would have passed muster 20 years ago, can’t mask the movie’s nagging lack of necessity. At least now we have an answer to the question, “Who’s the dullest franchise of them all?”

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‘The Huntsman: Winter’s War’


Rated PG-13 for fantasy action violence and some sensuality

Running time: 123 minutes

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