Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters

Madison Lee, Writer
February 20, 2013
Filed under Arts and Entertainment

Norwegian filmmaker Tommy Wirkola’s new movie Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters puts an end to the quaint little fairytale. This action-horror dark fantasy film rests far from a children’s story; witches move with deadly force, hybrid automatic weapons split the silence of small sleeping villages, children disappear at night, bodies explode, and a Blood Moon approaches, all under a thick layer of wickedly funny black humor.

Actor Jeremy Renner (The Avengers, The Bourne Legacy, The Hurt Locker) pairs up with actress Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Clash of the Titans) to bring forth a brother-sister duo that packs a punch without an ounce of candy-coating.

After a near fatal encounter with a witch and a gingerbread house as children, Hansel and Gretel grow up to seek vengeance 15 years later. They become highly skilled bounty hunters, spending their whole lives answering the call of innocents who need protection from evil magic, for a price, of course. As a team, they specialize in tracking and properly killing witches (mostly by burning or decapitation). Renner portrays Hansel as the brawn and Arterton portrays Gretel as the brains. Both come heavily armed.

Although ruthless when in combat, Hansel and Gretel possess a soft spot for children because of their experiences. This leads them to help when children in the village of Augsburg start going missing one-by-one. Worse, the evil witches that surround the mystery have uncovered a new form of power that holds the potential to make them indestructible to fire at the rising of the Blood Moon.

Along the way, Hansel and Gretel receive aid from a beautiful good witch (Pihla Viitala), a young enthusiastic boy named Ben (Thomas Mann), and a lumbering, uncommonly kind troll named Edward. They discover something hidden about their past, a secret much greater and darker than they ever bargained for.

The movie spans a running time of 88 minutes but the action gives one the illusion of a shorter duration. As a story, the plot was reasonably uncomplicated and predictable. It stands out for its intense fight sequences, (very many) bloody explosions, cool artillery, and bits of humor. One does not go to see the film for a thoughtful or profound narrative experience.

Special effects contribute to a large portion of the film’s appeal, combining fast-paced movement with bursts of red, an ominous soundtrack, and projectile 3D features. The witches themselves display frightening appearances, looking like a twisted cross between the monsters of The Chronicles of Narnia and Silent Hill movies. Audience members should not bring their kids to see this film, if not for the gory violence, then for the language.

Historically, the film also falls short of accurate. The setting appears Medieval, but some of the costuming and all of the technology creates a massive anachronism. One of the characters, for instance, uses a Gatling gun to fell dozens of witches during a scene toward the conclusion.

In summation, Hansel & Gretel deserves a round of applause and a fair bit of laughter. The film demands the audience to suspend their disbelief, not take the details too seriously, and enjoy the thrill of the wild ride.

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