I remember clearly what it was like to be a 12-year-old boy and know that if they had let me make a movie at that age it would look an awful lot like “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.”
The plot would have all the complexity and depth that could possibly be hatched up in the back of study hall (“What if Hansel and Gretel from the fairy tale grew up and then went around killing witches! How cool would that be?!).
I wouldn’t have bothered with silly distractions like character development, story continuity, or the basic parameters of logic (Huh?).
But what I would have done was cram the movie with lots of slow-motion fight scenes (Yea!), and tons of gore (Sweet!), and explosions (Rad!) and at some point, I’d probably find a reason for a hot chick to take her clothes off (giggle).
Such is “Hansel & Gretel,” a movie about that well thought out and roughly twice as ridiculous.
From the overly-caffeinated mind of Norwegian writer/director Tommy Wirkola, the movie stars Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as the witch-slaying siblings.
Both Renner and Arterton are decent actors in their own rights, but here they seem unmoored like they’re just waiting for someone to tell them what to do other than just run around and shoots at stuff.
Poor Renner looks especially lost, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt; maybe he thought this movie was just a part of some elaborate practical joke or something.
The movie’s lone spark comes from Famke Jannsen who plays the grand witch Muriel. She vamps it up as the lone witch who can shift into a truly human form. The rest of the witches are more feral and beastly, less “Bewitched” and more “Evil Dead.”
If I can say anything positive about “Hansel & Gretel” it’s that it at least looks cool. The action scenes are a pure visual spectacle to the point that it almost makes me willing to forgive the historically inappropriate use of firearms (including a Gatling gun) in medieval Europe. Almost.
Then there are the real head-shakers such as Hansel’s severe case of diabetes that he regularly treats with insulin injections. Setting aside for a moment that nobody in the 1500s knew what diabetes was let alone how to treat it, along with never explaining where Hansel even gets his insulin (Ye Olde Walgreens?), let’s instead focus on the fact that this is the movie’s idea of being clever.
See Hansel got diabetes from eating too much of a candy house as a kid. Get it? I suppose there’s really not all that much to get, but it does give you a clear indication of what kind of movie we are dealing with.
So aside from 12-year-old boys, I can’t recommend this movie to anyone and much like coming across a house made out of candy deep in the woods it’s probably best if you just walk on by.
“Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” is rated R for strong fantasy horror violence and gore, brief sexuality/nudity, and language.