Hansel and Gretel are two young siblings who barely the escaped the clutches of a carnivorous witch who lured them into her candy-coated edible house. Have you ever wondered what happened after they escaped? This film offers one explanation. Review after the jump.
Fifteen years after their ordeal, Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) are genuine witch hunters. They criss-cross the lands hunting witches; attempting to rid towns and villages of the darkness which takes their children from them. The two are fast and fierce, and for some reason have immunity to the spells cast by the dark witches.
The pair travel to Ausburg where they have been recruited by the mayor to hunt down a particularly nasty witch (Famke Janssen) who has stolen many of the town’s children. Hansel & Gretel discover the witch they are hunting is a very powerful grand witch who is planning to undertake a ritual during the “blood moon”, which will involve sacrificing the kidnapped children of Ausburg. The pair (along with some newly acquired friends) have quite the mission to save the children and eliminate the darkness from the lands.
Unlike other recent adaptations/twists on children’s fairy tales (I’m looking at you Snow White and the Huntsman), Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters takes the original story and completely flips it on its head. It has an idea and it runs with it, and it doesn’t do it by halves. The slightly creepy children’s story, becomes a very adult film which is action-packed, gory and a rather dark ride. At only 88 minutes long, this film is tightly paced with wall-to-wall action which only lets up for snippets of heavy-handed exposition. What this equals is a surprisingly entertaining time in which you can (for the most part) just let go of the film’s issues and have fun.
What lets this film down more than anything is the script. The dialogue is at times so wooden that it made me cringe. It made the characters seem like they lacked any real depth, and it did make it hard to really buy into any of the fantastical story-line. It’s hard for actors to shine when their lines are so awful, and while Renner and Arterton did a serviceable job, they were never going to rise above the sub-par dialogue. There was also one particular scene involving men horribly beating Arterton’s character which didn’t sit well with me. Violence is all well in good in this sort of film when it is committed against the fantasy creatures in self-defence, but the beating of her character was completely superfluous to the story and was actually quite shocking in a very uncomfortable way.
Thankfully the action in the film is so relentless, that you generally overlook the negative qualities such as the awful script and questionable 3D effects (god, just stop throwing things at the screen already). There are some very impressive chase scenes in the film, and a few fight scenes which made my stomach turn. The gore is ramped up to full capacity in this film, and they are rather inventive with the ways they kill the horrid witches. I particularly enjoyed the troll and the heavy-handed ways in which he dispatched his prey.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is 88 minutes of action, gore and a little dark fun.
By Sam McCosh
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Writer(s): Tommy Wirkola
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Peter Stormare
Runtime: 88 minutes
Release date(s): Australia: February 7th 2013; New Zealand: January 31st 2013; USA: January 25th 2013