Review: Hansel & Gretel – Witch Hunters
Directed by: Tommy Wirkola.
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen, Pihla Viitala, Peter Stormare.
Rating: Running Time: 88 mins.
Hansel & Gretel – Witch Hunters is a take on the fairytale story, following the title characters and imagining what happened to the two of them when they grew up. The movie starts with the original fairytale, with siblings Hansel & Gretel as children, woken suddenly during the night by their parents and leaves them in the forest where he tells them they will be ‘safe’.
Soon after, starving and cold, the two wander and find a house made of gingerbread, where they are captured by a witch who intends to cook and eat them, but while preparing her oven, the children overpower her and throw her into her own oven. Cut to years later, and the two are now professional witch hunters. Travelling through the country and using advanced weaponry to hunt down witches, the two come to a small town where several children have gone missing recently, and begin searching for the witches and the missing children, not realising that this time things will hit a bit more closer to home than before.
Hollywood is now starting to make adaptations of pretty much anything nowadays, it’s not surprise that fairy tales are now the latest fare to be added to the list, and this is not going to be the last one of it’s kind – Jack the Giant Slayer is also out soon which is an adaptation of Jack and the Beanstalk. While an attempt has been made to build on the original fairytale and using it as inspiration for something happening after those events, it does require one thing, a story.
The movie suffers from a lack of this with a very basic premise regarding a coven of witches and a plan to make them impervious to injury so they can’t be killed. There is an attempt to include some character development with the two lead roles involving the story of their parents, but it’s a case of too little too late when this finally begins to be revealed during the movie. There’s a real issue too with the target audience this is going for, the issue being that it doesn’t know which one it’s going for. It kind of wants to be full of action for the 12A audience, but then doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to graphic and gory bloody violence or f-bombs being dropped in every few scenes.
We’re not just talking blood splashes and stabbings, we’re talking full on head severing and there’s a graphic display of dismemberment using steel wire on trees when witches are flying on their broomsticks at high speeds (you can guess what happens next), though that effect does do something fairly decent with the 3D in that sequence, talking of which, there’s a fair use of both depth and things flying at the screen (usually debris from explosions) but I have to admit that some of these did make people flinch on occasion.
The focus primarily on action set-pieces is not surprising considering this is an MTV movies production, and as said this wants to try and play to that generation, but Hansel & Gretel – Witch Hunters comes off like a cheesy music video homage to Stephen Sommers’ Van Helsing. While it doesn’t pretend to take itself anywhere near as seriously as that movie, it doesn’t walk the line fine enough to really work. For anyone going to see this, give full consideration to the title beforehand, and you’ll know what to expect. It’s loud, trashy, full of cliché and while it’s not all bad, it’s average at best.