The Huntsman: Winter's War (James Newton Howard)

Released in 2016, "The Huntsman: Winter's War", was the follow-up to the reasonably successful "Snow White and the Huntsman". Run through the studio mill of possible writers and directors, eventually the film ended up in the hands of Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, who was VFX supervisor on the original film. Due to personal scandals between Stewart and Rupert Sanders, Snow White was written out of the story, focusing instead around Chris Hemsworth's Eric, serving as both a sequel to the original, and also telling a prequel tale of his original love, the ice queen Freya takes over her (mostly) dead sister Ravenna's quest for power. The film did not perform or review well, and personally I found it a supremely disappointing sequel, the tone was lighter, a bit more childish or cartoony, the script lackluster, and the visuals, while lavish, lacked the finesse and ambition of the original.

The main reason of interest here, then, is in the music. James Newton Howard returned to score the sequel, and fortunately largely abandons the harsher, more modern edge of the original, delivering a richer, more fully symphonic treat. The huntsman receives a noble, though underdeveloped theme, Freya receives solid musical representation, and Ravenna's icy motif returns in whispers. But the biggest attraction is a stellar new love theme that underscores the passion, pain and adventure that unite Eric and his childhood sweet-heart Sara. Overall, the score is a more thematically dense score, with a lot more emotional sections, some fun action, and lovely orchestral details.

The original soundtrack album released by Backlot Music features 65+ minutes of the score, plus a fun end credits song by Halsey. A vinyl version of the soundtrack was released later that year. The score is not complete, there are another forty or so minutes of music missing that nicely round out the musical story. I present a total of seven new covers, all based off the official marketing campaign materials. The posters overall were not merely as dynamic as in the first film, and featured many repeated elements, so I pared-down my final selections.

Editing the images was relatively simple, a few were given my usual AI enhancement to increase quality, plus the usual color tweaks to make the images pop a bit more, and patching some higher quality images over certain sections or to patch over Photoshop mistakes (like whatever hack-job destroyed poor Eric's forehead here). Other than that, it was mostly just resizing and shifting things here and there, expanding the edges on 1 and 6 to give a bit more wiggle room to the image, and trying to compact vertically in 3 and 6 by sliding Eric and Sara up a bit more in the picture (a poster like this with four characters staggered vertically is a challenge to make fit in this space, as the characters feel too small, there's too much dead space, and somehow it still feels a bit too tight altogether). 

But altogether these were fun to work on, I'm still a sucker for fantasy imagery, no matter how predictable, and I hope these will make nice pairs to the first score. Hope you enjoy and let me know your favorites!

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