Mania Grade: D+
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- Rated: Unrated
- Starring: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen, Peter Stromare
- Written By: Tommy Wirkola
- Directed by: Tommy Wirkola
- Distributor: Paramount Home Entertainment
- Original Year of Release: 2013
- Special Features: See Below
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters Unrated Blu-Ray Review
This Grimms Fairy Tale is worse than grim
By Tim Janson
June 12, 2013
About halfway through watching Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters my wife asked me in what era is the film supposed to take place? I replied, “I think they’re still figuring it out.” That about sums up the film. While published by the Brothers Grimm in 1812 the story was based on much earlier German folktales. While it presents an idyllic German village circa the 1700s or 1800s virtually everything else is cobbled together in a mish-mash of silliness that includes characters using words like “Wow!”and “Awesome!”; swearing like sailors; running about in skin-tight S&M leather outfits; and utilizing shotguns, Gatling guns; and rapid-fire crossbows. It stumbles equally between trying to be campy and dramatic, and both elements fall woefully short.
The film’s veil-thin premise is that after pushing the old witch into the fire as kids, Hansel (Renner) and Gretel (Arterton) grow up to be witch-hunters because apparently German villages are lousy with witches. They arrive at the town of Augsburg at the Mayor’s behest to rescue several children who have been abducted by witches. This doesn’t sit well with the town’s sheriff (Stromare) who doesn’t want the outside help of the siblings…and proceeds to hire and outside band of trackers who promptly get killed by the Grand Witch, Muriel (Janssen).
Hansel & Gretel begin their pursuit of Muriel and discover that the witches are planning a big convention during which they plan to sacrifice the dozen abducted children in a ritual that will make them immune to fire. Hansel and Gretel are aided by Ben, a teenaged villager who is the sibling’s biggest fan (complete with a scrapbook of all the newspaper clippings of their adventures) Mina, the Good Witch of the West…err…of Augsburg; and a Troll named Edward who’s tired of working for the old hags.
At the end of the film I realized that I had watched the theatrical version instead of the un-rated cut that was ten minutes longer. I jumped up and did a happy dance since I didn’t have to endure the ten additional minutes! I frankly could not envision any scenario where the extra footage would have made the film any better. There’s nothing wrong with the premise as a whole…a grown up, witch-hunting brother and sister team could have been a fine movie were it painted with a brush rather than Director Tommy Wirkola’s jackhammer.
The action fluctuates between inane action scenes where every witch apparently is a black belt in Kung-Fu and Hansel and Gretel, even with their high tech weaponry, can’t hit the broad side of a barn. How they survived to adulthood is a miracle! In between we get boring bits of exposition where we learn that Hansel is a diabetic due to being forced to eat too much candy and has to give himself insulin injections every few hours. The paid come across an old abandoned home in the forest and after exploring it for several minutes they discover that it was their old childhood home! My old childhood home is one of several cookie-cutter homes on the same street that you could paint identically and I’d still have no problem picking it out of a lineup.
The film has some creative designs and make-up for the many witches who appear near the end but we get only fleeting glimpses of them whizzing by or being gunned down. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters features a cast of actors whom I generally enjoy but they are obviously trapped in a production they cannot escape.
Mirroring the film is an uninspired set of blu-ray extras
Reinventing Hansel & Gretel (15:41) – A discussion of how the production came together. Director Tommy Wirkola discusses the project in detail and also talks about the casting process. Also includes interviews with Renner, Arterton, and the rest of the cast.
The Witching Hours (9:01) – this looks at the lore of witches and the design and makeup of the many different types of witches seen in the film.
Meet Edward the Troll (5:25) – a short featurette on the creation and effects of Edward the Troll played by actor Derek Mears.