This past week, yet another classic fairy tale received the full Hollywood treatment of blood, bullets and special effects. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters hit theaters on Jan. 25, and has been met with a less than enthusiastic response from most major critics. However, the fact that the film will most likely not be an Oscar contender says nothing about its level of entertainment, which is thankfully high enough to justify the unoriginal premise.
…met with a less than enthusiastic response from most major critics…
The plot of the film is a continuation of the original Grimm tale. After surviving their famous childhood encounter with the witch in the house made of candy, Hansel (Jeremy Renner, The Bourne Legacy) and his sister Gretel (Gemma Arterton, Clash of the Titans) decide to take things a step further and make a career out of their particular brand of witch-slaying. Years later, the two have become successful bounty hunters, employing an assortment of swords, crossbows and mean left hooks to rid the world of every witch they encounter. However, when their most powerful adversary yet (Famke Janssen, X-Men) threatens to release a plague of unstoppable sorcery upon the world, the duo must team up with some unlikely allies and discover the truth about what really happened that night in the gingerbread house before it is too late. In the spirit of 3D cinema, a classy amount of blood, guts and disembowelment ensues.
At first glance, a film about the continuing story of two mentally scarred children may not seem very endearing or exciting. And while this is true for many aspects of Hansel and Gretel, the film has strengths as well. As far as casting choices go, Renner and Arterton manage to whip up enough chemistry to keep the film on its feet. Their violent, professional and slightly sarcastic portrayals of the brother-sister duo are what keep viewers interested when all else fails. It is in its supporting cast, unfortunately, that Hansel and Gretel comes up short. Aside from Janssen’s villainous role, the supporting characters contribute next to nothing to the overall story, filling the plot with unnecessary side-scenes that come off as awkward and redundant. Luckily for the film and those who see it, the majority of screen time is dedicated to the two main characters. But while Renner and Arterton keep the film afloat, the shame lies in the fact that, with a strong supporting cast, Hansel and Gretel could actually have the potential to overcome its whimsical storyline and earn some respect in the professional film community.
…Witch Hunters does know how to show them a good time.
On the whole, Hansel and Gretel will never be considered a great American classic. As the title suggests, the plot strays just a little too far into ridiculous territory for the film to be taken seriously. But when it comes down to it, the obvious fact is that the movie was never meant to be taken seriously at all. On the contrary, with its R-rating and cast of Hollywood stars, the film is an all-out gore fest that flirts with the line between action and horror, with a few cheesy comedic moments thrown in to spice up the mix. Granted, the dialogue leaves a lot to be desired and the story is predictable at best, but at least Hansel and Gretel has enough sense to be playful about it. While other fairy-tale based films, such as 2011’s Red Riding Hood, tend to put a more dramatic twist on the original story and often fail as a result, Hansel and Gretel accepts the fact that its premise is silly; it simply strives to entertain without any desire to shock audiences or inspire deep thought.
While viewers should in no way expect to die of laughter or be reduced to tears from seeing it, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters does know how to show them audience a good time. A cheesy, brains-exploding-across-the-screen time, but a good time nonetheless.