Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is somewhat gorily fun, but lacks consistency and punch. Which is more or less fine; it’s not supposed to have emotional punch. It seems like it’s mostly there to give audience members a suitably fun ride and launch a franchise.
Probably a trilogy.
Here’s a trailer. (You have to wait until nearly the end of the film to see some of the cooler stuff):
Released January 25, 2013
Written by Tommy Wirkola and Dante Harper
Directed by Tommy Wirkola
Starring Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen, Pihla Viitala, Jeremy Renner, Peter Stormaire, and Thomas Mann
* * * * *
Hansel and Gretel, are woken as young children and left in the forest for unknown reasons by their father, after he was told by their mother to take the children away. This is a mystery regarding their origin. (Hooray for guns on mantles.)
They are terrified and find their way to a candy house, whose owner is an angry, human-eating witch. The brother and sister get the better of the witch and thus begins the legend of these two– who it turns out are just what an inexplicably witch-infested area of the world was waiting for.
Their fame having broadened significantly, grown-up Hansel (Renner) and Gretel (Arterton) do a brisk business finding and slaying witches for money. They make an appearance after being hired by a town to find the witch that has stolen nearly a dozen of their children. In the process of tracking down the witch, Muriel (Janssen), they join forces with a young man named Ben (Mann) and a lovely woman named Mina (Viitala).
Secrets of their past are revealed, along with some fairly convenient plot points. Through it all, Hansel and Gretel have to rely on each other to find a way to stop Muriel’s horrible plot.
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is a clever idea that could have been a lot better executed. Instead of being clever and snappy, like the idea really ought to lend itself to being, it’s pretty formulaic and semi-lacking in interesting dialogue. Think about it: instead of just cooking a witch that wants them for dinner, these two grow up to be seriously tough warriors against evil. That’s a fun idea! But there’s not a lot of pure fun in this movie. In the place of fun, you have some uninspired acting on everyone’s part except for Arterton, and you also have an overall predictable plot that doesn’t make much effort to develop interesting characters. Sadly, this movie does have an interesting mythos for the witches, but doesn’t seem to know what kind of world these people inhabit.
Particularly disappointing is the minimal-effort acting on most of the actors’ parts. Famke Janssen could have elevated the role of Muriel to something far more interesting and less bland. Arterton did a fair job, adding intelligence, toughness, and sensitivity to an otherwise predictable role. Renner has a few moments, but the role doesn’t require much of him.
Mann as Ben is suitably creepy in a charming way, but it’s just not enough to carry the movie.
Peter Stormaire’s sheriff character could have been done by any human being.
So a poorly-thought out plot that didn’t spend enough time developing characters is the base of this movie. Add to that a large amount of unexpectedly unpleasant and useless gore, and the movie could have been completely lame.
Instead, because of some energetic pacing and some interesting set-pieces, the movie isn’t a total wash. The witches are cleverly developed as something beyond human as well, and that’s a nice touch.
If you like relatively pointless, not entirely harmless, gory action, this is your film. For most others, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is rather too gratuitous and rather not thought-through enough to make it worth it.
Content warnings: Lots of splattery gore, a scene of female nudity, some sensuality, some salty language.
Writing: 1.5 Acting: 2 Overall: 1.5
Which movie review should you share? This one, or I’ll hunt you down and Gretel you! (I have no idea what I mean by that. But let your imagination be your guide.)