Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)

Hansel and Gretel Witch HuntersAbandoned in the woods as children, Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) had little choice but to shelter in a remote cottage built from candy. Attacked by the witch in residence, the siblings somehow find themselves immune to her magic and are able to overcome and kill their would-be captor. Years later, the two are making a living as witch hunters, ridding the land of evil whenever and wherever they find it. Arriving in Augsburg days before the Blood Moon, however, they find themselves up against their mightiest foe yet (Famke Janssen).

It’s safe to say that expectations weren’t exactly high for Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters 3D, the first big-budget feature film from Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola, and the latest attempt to adapt Grimm’s various fairytales for the big screen (with a neat little Shrek-esque reference to Goldilocks And The Three Bears to boot). While his previous features, which include 2009’s  Nazi-zombie film Dead Snow, have been relatively well received, uninspired casting choices and a particularly weak first trailer did little to suggest the film would be anything other than average.

Starring the likes of Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters was never going to be a film of praiseworthy performances. Even by their own standards, however, both Gretel and Hansel are wafer-thin protagonists which lack distinctive personalities and fail to establish a convincing relationship. For action heroes the pair are hopelessly inept, with Arterton spending most of the movie unconscious (but still pouting) and Renner somehow still reeling from a childhood sugar-rush (diabetes, apparently). Famke Janssen at least had potential as the supernatural antagonist, but cumbersome prosthetics and a weak script leave her with nothing to do but gurn and growl.

Over on the other side of the colon, the witch-hunting fares just as poorly, the film as interested in actual witchcraft as the similarly scatter-shot Resident Evil franchise has been in zombies. The coven look frankly preposterous, their plastic faces channeling The Witches when the genre has moved on considerably in the intervening decades, with the likes of Harry Potter and The Craft distancing themselves from the boil-nosed hags of folklore. A twenty-three year-old adaptation of a Roald Dahl book isn’t exactly an ideal frame of reference when you’re supposedly aiming for a dark horror-fantasy vibe, one that completely undermines the always jarring gore and profanity. The most recent touchstone is probably Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, a film which garnered just as little praise but nevertheless introduced some interesting subtext and was at the very least a showcase for some impressive special effects. It’s not even as good as Van Helsing.

The similarities with that latter film don’t end with the ludicrous rapid-fire crossbow either, with both films aiming for steampunk but falling embarrassingly, stupidly short. If you balked at the sight of zeppelins in Paul W. S. Anderson’s The Three Musketeers, I’d give Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters an even wider berth than if you didn’t. Wirkola’s film features Gatling guns, defibrilation and insulin injections despite being set in the relatively distant past. By the time an automatic Gramophone is used to lure a witch out of the woods, chances are that your eyes will have rolled right out of your head.

At once laughable and utterly witless, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is a badly acted, unremarkably directed and strangely outdated action movie that’ll make you look back on Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter or Resident Evil: Retribution with something approaching affection.



About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)

  1. Pingback: February 2013 – Snitches end up in ditches! | popcornaddict

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: