Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Where to even begin?
Well, in a similar vein to movies like Van Helsing (what a steaming pile of poo that was) and The Brothers Grimm, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is an over-the-top action movie of people hunting monsters, in this case witches if you weren’t paying attention.
The movie opens with the two title characters from German folklore, Hansel and Gretel, being led out into the woods in the middle of the night by their father, who promptly leaves them alone in the dark. They soon stumble through the woods and find a house made of candy, which they of course go into and, of course, get captured by a witch, whom they promptly burn alive in her own oven after discovering that her witches magic doesn’t work them. This then sets the tone for the rest of their lives as they spend the next twenty or so years killing witch after witch after witch, so many witches that you have to wonder where all of them live without tripping over each other.
They’re hired by a town with a vaguely German name (despite no one in this movie possessing a German accent or wearing clothes anywhere near period German anything) because they are suffering from “the witch plague” (considering the number of witches that appear later in the movie, and the number H&G have killed, three witches hardly constitutes a plague but ok). The witches have been kidnapping children you see and H&G are going to stop it. And here’s where I’ll leave off so I don’t get shouted at re: spoilers.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is not a good movie. The pacing feels weird (time flows strangely in pseudo-Germany), the dialogue is poor even for an action film, Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton don’t really gel until half way through the movie, and it felt like the fight scenes went on just a touch too long. Some of the special effects were a little…off. Spoiler: there’s a troll character and there was at no point where it didn’t feel like he was just a guy in a costume. I mean, Ludo in Labyrinth was a giant puppet, a guy in a suit, but he managed to feel more real in that movie (probably due to all the other puppets and costumed actors) than Edward the Troll (spoiler, the troll’s name is Edward).
That being said the movie isn’t without merit. The practical effects are pretty good and I did appreciate the fact that H&G, repeatedly, get the crap kicked out of them and that the movie isn’t afraid of showing that the heroes are human with human weaknesses. The witches are uniquely creepy and Renner and Arterton are capable of keeping up with the physical aspects of an action film. And Gretel is a bad ass in her own right apart from her brother.
Eh. This movie receives a very firm “Eh” from me. No need to see it in the theater, it’s not that special, and maybe include it in a movie night if you’re watching bad, pseudo-fantasy, pseudo-period monster slaying movies.