Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)

hansel and gretel IMDb

Dark re-imaginings of fairy tales are all the rage at the moment. Snow White & The Huntsman, Jack the Giant Slayer, and Maleficent have all brought the Brother Grimm’s tales back to life in sometimes novel ways. But none have done so in such a gruesome and snarky manner as Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.

Hansel & Gretel is in some sense the perfect extension of the German folk tale. Most Americans would have grown up with a very sanitized version of this story, but even so, the one I remember still wasn’t happy-go-lucky. This is a story revolving around child abandonment and cannibalism. It kind of makes sense that these kids would grow up desensitized to violence and hell bent on ridding the world of witches. And yet, this movie relies entirely too much on the blood and gore. The story is surprisingly not bad, but often takes a backseat to everything else.

The best parts of this movie are the scenes consisting of witty banter and biting insults. Jeremy Renner (Hansel) is great at this, and I would gladly trade a few gruesome witch deaths for more dialogue-based scenes. Gemma Arterton (Gretel) plays her part more seriously. As much as I liked her character, it feels like something is missing. She excels in her action scenes, but falls flat most other times. The two together are a likable enough pair, though their chemistry is abysmal. I was never convinced that they are siblings, which is kind of a big problem when you’re playing a famous brother-sister pair.

For what it is, Hansel & Gretel is a fairly enjoyable movie. It certainly has a distinct take on the Grimm fairy tale and doesn’t hold back. If you’re looking for some mindless fun mixed with some steampunk influenced weaponry, then this is the film for you.

Rating: D+

This is a stupid, but entertaining, film. If you go into Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters with the right expectations, you will enjoy yourself. This movie is a dumb action movie with two attractive leads and enough action and explosions to keep you entertained for 90 minutes.

Hansel & Gretel follows on from the classic fairy tale when young children, Hansel and Gretel get lost in the woods and happen upon a house made from candy, only to discover there is an evil witch inside. Years later, Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) have become professional bounty hunters who specialise in killing witches. When a local town starts losing children, Hansel and Gretel are asked to find the source of these missing kids, which is obviously a witch (Famke Janssen), and dispose of it. There is not much more to the story than that. The plot is simple enough that all you really need to know is that Hansel and Gretel are hunting witches and they are bad ass!

Renner and Arterton have good chemistry and the fight scenes are great. The weapons are quite cool, as are the effects and makeup, and this film doesn’t take itself too seriously which is always a bonus. I look at a film like Hansel & Gretel and think that this is what the Hugh Jackman vehicle Van Helsing should have been like. It is such a cool idea, but poorly executed. Hansel & Gretel manages to strike the right balance between tongue in cheek mockery and being serious. I had a lot of fun watching this film and would do so again.

Like I said, go in with the right expectations (low), and you will have a good time. If you expect a great plot and terrific acting, you will likely be disappointed.

Rating: C+

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