A co-worker first told me about this film some months back, of which I thought he was joking. When he persisted that there really was a Hansel & Gretel movie coming out, I made a mad dash to my phone and checked out the trailer. My initial thought was, “What’s this? The latest trend on the heels of Abe Lincoln hunting vampires? What’s next? Napoleon: Sasquatch Hunter?” The film’s preview didn’t exactly light my fire, but with Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner headlining the movie, I figured I’d give it a go.
The story begins with the childhood tale we’re all familiar with. A young Hansel and Gretel come upon a cottage made of candy and frosting in the middle of the forest. Little do they know a witch lives there with intentions other than satisfying the kids’ sweet tooth. But, that’s where the similarities end. The film adds a new twist by focusing on the siblings’ adult lives as witch hunters, ridding the land of the casters of black magic.
The film takes place in an unknown time and place. We’re well past the middle ages since there’s the use of sophisticated firearms, but we haven’t quite reached the age of electricity yet either. Let’s face it. It’s nowhere specific and you might as well through your calendar out the window. All Hansel & Gretel know is one town has lost several of its children to witches and it’s their job to end the madness and get the wee lads and lasses back home safely.
I’m going to divide this movie up into two parts over the course of its 88-minute runtime. The first half of the movie was terrible. Plain and simple. It was very unexciting and uninspiring. I was pretty much detached from just about every aspect of the film due to its lack of establishing anything worth connecting to. It didn’t take itself seriously, and as a result, I could care less as to what was going on. The second half of the film went down a different path with a little gore and nudity being delivered. I don’t mention that in the sense of some gratuitous fashion, but rather because those were welcomed additions, establishing some sense of maturity in a film where there was little in the first 40 minutes or so.
I do want to mention that I did see the 3D version of Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, which contained a very consistent use of the visual technology. The minds behind the film didn’t save up the enhanced visuals for one big moment, nor did they use it anemically. Again, it was used regularly and impressively throughout the entire film. For that, there are high marks to be awarded. Sadly, that praise isn’t enough to raise what was an otherwise sinking ship.
The writing was very basic, and while I wasn’t looking for dialogue along the likes of Sir Francis Bacon, I was hoping for something much more involved than what I got. I can’t even alter my thoughts to a mode of “Just enjoy the film for what it’s worth” because it just didn’t succeed overall. On the bright side, there are some very beautiful women cast in this movie such as Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen and Pihla Viitala. But just like good 3D, three hot women does not equate to a great film.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters may make for a satisfying rental, but as for the $14 I spent for a matinee 3D viewing, ehhh, that was a bit much considering what I got in return.