Saturday, 26 January 2013

Movie Review: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

How to turn childhood trauma into a career: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

Released: January 25, 2012
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Writers: Tommy Wirkola & Dante Harper
Rating: 18A
Jeremy Renner as Hansel
Gemma Arterton as Gretel
Famke Janssen as Muriel
Pihla Viitala as Mina
Peter Stormare as Sheriff Berringer
Rainer Bock as Mayor Engleman

Full cast and crew HERE

I'm sure most of you have heard the story of Hansel and Gretel by now. Did you ever wonder what their lives would be like after they escaped the witch? Well look no further, because Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters will tell you!

Traumatized, and orphaned these siblings become inseparable in their quest to rid the land of witches so that no one else has to end up on the dining table of a witch. Honing their skills and racking up the body count they build a formidable reputation for themselves. With an ominous Blood Moon approaching a small town and their children becomes the target for a coven of witches. Desperate the Mayor enlists the help of Hansel and Gretel. 

What starts out as a routine hunt soon becomes more complicated as the bread crumbs of their past is revealed...


     The movie starts off with a flashback to their youth, and the infamous candy house witch. This is a great recap for people who may not be completely familiar with the story. It's kept quick, simple and has a much more action based ending for the witch than the original story. Although it did leave out some crucial details to the story, it's more of a guideline for the rest of the movie anyways.

     Fast forward to years later (we're never actually told but I'm guessing probably 20 or so years later?). Hansel and Gretel having never found their way home, or their parents; subsequently become orphans. Angry and bitter at the witch that captured them, they make it their life's mission to rid the world of witches. With some seriously out of the time period, but wicked looking weapons they make their name known across the land. 

     First off, I was super surprised this was an 18A ('R') movie, but since you can only do so much with a story that's already well known - what they turned this into was a gore/jump scare/ silly humor/ boob fest. It was so gory, that it became cheesy gory and was hilarious at some points. There's a lot of dead-pan humor, and the modern swear words in a very medieval set felt so out of place that you had to laugh. 

     Jeremy Renner as Hansel, is his usual military badass self. His experiences with the candy house witch and the abandonment from his parents have definitely left their mark on him. He hunts with a singleminded focus, with no distractions (women would throw themselves at him and he seemed completely oblivious to it...), and suppresses any thoughts of his childhood. What I found as a super interesting plot device to add into his story was the detrimental effects of all the candy that he was forced to eat as a child - so you get a little bit of a health lesson while you're watching. BONUS: Jeremy Renner shirtless, do you really need to know any more?

     Gemma Arterton as Gretel was awesome! She's tough, smart and you could tell that she has to take a lot of bull from drunken backwoods men who think that women are only useful in the kitchen - but she takes it with grace and a hard headed approach. 

     While Hansel and Gretel worked together like a well tuned machine, I didn't feel like there was a deep sibling relationship. There were some scenes where I was just thinking - these are some really good looking people and whoaa are they going to kiss?!?! So I was slightly confused and weirded out, I had to keep reminding myself they were siblings. 

     One of the glaring problems I had with this movie was the townsmen. While this movie is based on witch hunting (and all the witches are female in this universe), there's a lot of misogyny. You know how mob mentally is during witch hunts, they all start accusing the pretty single female girl. But even Gretel's strength couldn't overcome it, and I was really hoping for a super strong female smackdown with a self satisfied smirk at the end. But she ended up turning into a damsel in distress and that was really disappointing. 

     The witches in this movie and their gruesome appearance was pretty spectacular. Seeing Famke Janssen as a witch for the first time was terrifying and damn she can whip up some creative curses. The overall plot that the witches had going was a pretty predictable one (I actually ended up guessing the "plot twist" at the beginning), but it works with the purpose of the movie.

     The movie was action packed in the beginning and it was off to an entertaining start. Then it tried to make Hansel and Gretel form other meaningful relationships which bogged the movie down partway through. I'm not quite sure where they were trying to go with it. There were also a lot of huge revelations about their past and what really bothered me was that it didn't seem to phase them and they didn't build on it or comment on it - it was just kind of revealed and off they went to take a witch head! 

Overall: 3/5 (Rounded up from 2.5) Drinkable Cups of Tea.
I feel very 'meh' about it. I didn't hate it, but it's pretty much a movie for if you want to sit for an hour and a half and not do much thinking. If you go into this with low expectations you'll be fine. The weapons were a bit too advanced for the time period and it had a very shallow and predictable plot but if you liked Van Helsing odds are you'll find this entertaining. I think your best bet would be to wait until it's in a cheap theater or rent it when it comes out, it wasn't worth the Ultra AVX 3D price tag attached to it.

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