The original “Hansel and Gretel” fairy tale was not a very pleasant story, nor was it uplifting. It was about parents purposefully trying to abandon their children in the woods so that they wouldn’t have to feed them. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters adapts this grim fairy tale into a fast paced re-imagining that goes beyond the siblings’ escape from the witch. Most haven’t stopped to think about what being held captive by a cannibalistic witch (whom you defeat by pushing into a burning oven) would have on such a young mind. A fairy tale typically ends with “they lived happily ever after,” but this film knows better.
Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) get hired to solve a mystery of disappearing children in the German town of Augsburg. Since their traumatizing experience with a witch when they were children, they’ve fittingly become witch hunters and darn good ones at that. Of course, where there’s missing children, there’s a witch, and this time it’s the grand witch Muriel (Famke Janssen) who’s behind the vanished tots.
This film doesn’t take itself seriously, which is part of the charm. It’s a self aware, light, action-fantasy romp through the woods killing bad witches and flinging all kinds of body parts at the screen. Sounds fun, right? Having the right expectations going in to the film will determine how you like it.
Things to expect:
- Copious amounts of gore
- Frequent and well paced action sequences
- One tough brother-sister duo at the forefront of all the action. It’s nice to see male/female leads. Renner and Arterton fill the roles perfectly, infusing humor throughout all the ass beatings.
- Excellent costume design
- Flippant, but fun ride
Things NOT to expect:
- A well thought out story
- Deep analysis/interpretation of the fairy tale
- A serious, “we’re going to make history” film
- A villain that you hate- Yes, Muriel does bad things, but she’s not seen doing such over the top villainess things to get you invested in her takedown.
I had a great time watching Hansel & Gretel because I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece. Yes, the story is indeed a little diluted, but there’s enough there to give reason to root for the heroes. The whole film is full of energy and enthusiasm, not messing around with unnecessary drawn out scenes, but reveling in getting directly to the point. Take the film at face value and enjoy yourself.
Baddies: Muriel, a very powerful grand witch, and her witchy sisters.
Best Line: “Let the girl go, or I’m going to blow your Sheriff brains all over these f***ing hillbillies.”
Best Kill: Four trackers go out in the woods at night in order to find a missing child. Muriel finds them first, however, and shuts down their hunt through the usual, appropriate legal channels…of killing all of them. One tracker immediately tries to run when Muriel reveals her witchiness, but he doesn’t get very far at all. Muriel magically strings him up with the vines of the trees, one vine around each limb and one around his neck. She rips him apart, leaving behind a headless, armless, legless corpse spraying blood in five different directions like squirt guns.
Action Rating: 3.5 ass-kicking, witch-hunting, brother-sister duos, out of 5.
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