Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters from Paramount Pictures is a new twist on a classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as the titular duo and is in theaters January 25th in RealD 3D and IMAX 3D. Is this reimagining of the classic childrens’ story worth its weight in bread crumbs or should it just be gobbled up by a witch in a gingerbread house?
Once upon a time, Hansel and Gretel were taken deep into the woods in the middle of the night by their father with no explanation. They are abandoned and lost. Cold and hungry, they wander off to seek food and shelter. The two stumble upon a house made of candy and gingerbread. Starving they go inside only to be captured by a witch. She forces Gretel to work in the kitchen while she fattens Hansel so she can eat him. One day the siblings fight back. They attack the witch and throw her into her oven and burn her.
Many years pass and the “Orphaned Twins” become legends as ruthless witch hunters. They are armed with advanced weaponry and gadgets. But the one major advantage they have over the witches is that they have an unexplained immunity to the spells from their magic wands. Hansel and Gretel travel the lands destroying the hell spawn and rescuing children for grateful and paying townsfolk.
On their latest mission, they are by a town’s mayor to locate and rescue eleven children who went missing. The local Sheriff thinks he has found the witch responsible and recruits the town to burn her at the stake. Hansel and Gretel disagree, save the beautiful redhead and promise the towns people they will do their best to rescue the missing children.
Hansel and Gretel get to tracking and hunt down a witch in her lair. After a quick interrogation and search of the premises, they find a astrological map that tells about the next blood moon that will bring witches from across the lands to celebrate their dark sabbath. Can Hansel and Gretel stop the witches and save the children, all while battling the local sheriff and a troll?
We’ve all been read the story of Hansel and Gretel as a bedtime story as kids. It’s actually a pretty morbid tale, but what Grimms Fairy Tale isn’t? We know how the tale ends, but what Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters does is tell the continuing story of a possible future with a lot of style and flare in the same way Van Helsing starring Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckensale reimagined the folklore of the famous vampire killer. It has cool weapons and stunt work.
As the brother and sister team are Jeremey Renner (Marvel’s The Avengers/The Bourne Legacy) and Gemma Arterton (Clash of the Titans/Quantum of Solace). Both are dressed in leather and out for blood. Hansel’s weapon of choice is a blessed shotgun and Gretel fancies a crossbow that has rapid fire and two barrels that can shoot in different directions. They dispatch the child abductors in many ways, but my favorite was an invisible razor line that they string across trees like a spider web. One thing I thought was quite amusing is that Hansel has diabetes. Of course I don’t think the disease is funny, but that Hansel was forced to eat so much candy to fatten him up as a child and he has to take a shot every few hours or he’ll die from “Sugar Sickness” is. Renner was pretty cool as Hansel, but he tended to always get hurt and end up hanging upside down. Arteton was tough and sexy as Gretel. My only problem with them was that they seemed to have weird sibling chemistry. Of course I may have no idea what that is because I’m an only child, but in one scene they sort of interacted pretty incestuously.
The rest of the supporting cast is filled with typical cast of fairy tale characters. Peter Stormare plays the creepy town Sheriff. Pihla Viitala plays the beautiful redhead accused of being a witch. And Famke Janssen plays the powerful black witch. Of course the big nerd that I am, I couldn’t help but think, “Look, it’s Hawkeye trying to beat up Jean Grey.” Fun nerd movie fact: the actor who plays the troll in the movie is the same one who plays Jason Vorhees in the Friday the 13th reboot.
The movie was directed by Tommy Wirkola, whose previous work included a German TV show and cult horror movie, Dead Snow. But for being pretty inexperienced, he did a pretty good job with the stylization of the film. I just wish filmmakers would quit with the quick edits and shakey cam. What was really phenomenal was the soundtrack especially in the opening credits. It really set the tone. It was very Danny Elfmanesque from the Tim Burton movies.
I viewed the movie in IMAX 3D and I don’t think it was needed. There were a couple 3D gags that was worth the effect, but as a whole, viewing it in 3D is not worth the extra cash. If you plan to see it, 2D is quite adequate. The movie is rated R and I don’t think it was warranted. I’m not a prude, but the film just loved dropping unnecessary F-bombs. I didn’t find it overly gory. Hell, a random episode of The Walking Dead is more brutal. Other than a second of nudity (bare butt and one boob), I really cant understand why the movie had an R-Rating. To be honest, they could have made a few edits, not wasted the money on 3D, and changed the rating to PG-13 to broaden the audience and made up the money. For an R-Rated movie it was pretty tame.
This movie is going to get a ton of comparisons to Van Helsing, I know, I made them. The clothes, weapons and monsters all feel like it. I went into Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters with low expectations, and I was pleasantly surprised by the fun factor, but it fell short on the wow factor. The film started strong, but died in the 2nd act. By the time the climactic ending hit the screen, I almost didn’t care.
If you do plan on seeing Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, may I suggest just checking out a bargain matinee in 2D or even waiting for it to hit the rental market. Are fairy tales for adults the new Hollywood trend? We had Red Riding Hood and Snow White and the Huntsman. What’s next? The Three Little Pigs: Swine Commandos?
In Theaters: January 25, 2013
Runtime: 88 min
Rating: R (for strong fantasy violence and gore, brief sexuality/nudity and language)
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen, Pihla Viitala, Peter Stormare
Genre: Action/Adventure, Comedy
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Official Site: http://www.HanselAndGretelMovie.Com