Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013) Directed by Tommy Wirkola. With Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton.
Written and directed by Dead Snow helmer, Tommy Wirkola, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters aims to take the basic gist of the classic Brothers Grimm fairytale, and breathe new cinematic life beyond the confines of the well-known yarn.
Knowing the previous work of the director, and with a well-earned ’15’ rating to its name, it’s safe to say this is abundantly not for kids. In truth, it could be argued that the source material itself is likely responsible for the endless sleepless nights of tender-aged children but still, this nightmarish story endures to be told and passed from one generation to the next.
So, what of the film? Well, it’s like Blade awkwardly The Wizard of Oz, however that might be seen as a big over-sell. The fairytale as we know it is told in a suitably grisly, prologue back-story, before the events of the film begin. Once the familiar is out of the way, the focus shifts to a grown up Hansel and Gretel, and their ongoing obsession with ridding the world of all things witchy.
Taking the lead roles are the ever adept Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton. Low on script but high on physical action – both actors appear to enjoy themselves, despite the feeling that almost anyone with a buff torso and good figure could have inhabited their roles.
Given the overly violent tone, the charmless smattering of strategically placed ‘F-bombs’, and at least a few buckets full of blood, it’s curious as to who the film is for. As recent fairytale comparisons go – it boasts a more direct entertainment value than the visually arresting, yet hollowed out Snow White and the Huntsman, but still manages to be idly idiotic with telegraphed plot points and badly under developed characters.
Pleasingly, the point from A to B, (it doesn’t try and venture much from that course) is refreshingly short. The bare script is covered up by some brutal but fairly enjoyable, albeit repeatedly silly action sequences. The predictable nature of it all winds up just how you might expect, as does the now obligatory, sequel setting coda. That said, with lowered expectations, there is dumb fun to be had. 3/5