Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
I will begin by saying that this movie is not very good. That being said, a little piece of me can rest easy knowing what Hansel and Gretel did with their lives after that whole candy house thing.
To say that the film is short on character development would be an understatement, and the plot is just as thin. Essentially, it turns out Hansel and Gretel (played by Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton) have a little witch blood in them (which saved them from the witch in the aforementioned candy house when they were children), and so they became witch hunters as a result. The film takes place around another witch-hunt in another town, as the two of them kill witches in every way you can possibly imagine from every camera angle you can possibly imagine. That’s pretty much the movie. Oh, there’s also a half-baked love story involving Hansel and a woman he saves from being burned at the stake near the beginning of the movie.
Renner and Arterton do what they can with the material. They both know what kind of film they are making, and they do a good job with the adequate amount of campiness in their performances. Famke Janssen, on the other hand, phones in her performance as the evil witch Muriel. She plays an extremely one-dimensional (yes, that’s partly the fault of the writing) shape-shifting witch, and she might as well be any stock bad guy from any movie ever. She’s not bad, just forgettable. The same can be said about the title characters, as well, but they were just forgettable with a bit more gusto.
Acting aside, the thing that really pushes this movie into the long line of obscure-to-be January movies is the plot. It is virtually non-existent, and it is painfully clear that an early draft of the script is what ended up on the screen. For example, early on in the film, a plot device is set up that Muriel and her brethren of witches have developed powers that can prevent them from being lit on fire (the go-to witch-killing method for any witch hunter worth their weight in bread crumbs). They gain the ability to be temporarily flame-retardant, but they still need the heart of a Grand White Witch for the spell to become permanent. During the climax of the movie, this whole fire thing is essentially forgotten. The main plot point driving the entire second act of the film is discarded fairly easily, making the final showdown a bit dull and unconnected to the rest of the film.
It is really easy to find faults in this film because they are countless. However, there are some pretty scary and exciting action sequences. They play almost like a video game, as the witches die in almost cartoonish ways, usually followed up with a quip by Jeremy Renner. With a name like Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, and a January 25th release date, and for being released by MTV Films (wait, MTV Films still exists?), you basically get what you pay for. You can turn your brain off for an hour and a half and watch two-time Academy Award Nominee Jeremy Renner and Bond girl Gemma Arterton hunt witches in a movie that they are too good for. If that sounds like fun to you, and you already sawArgo when it was in theaters the first time around, then go check out this disposable re-imagining of the classic tale.
Movie Review by Mike Danner