Friday, January 17, 2014

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters Movie Review

I suppose that Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters came about in wake of other dark fairy tale revisions such as Red Riding Hood, Snow White and the Huntsman, and Jack the Giant Slayer. Unlike the others Hansel & Gretel was not meant to be taken very seriously, and indeed it is hard to do so. But even for a fantasy/action/comedy/horror movie that aims for campy fun, it's still not very impressive.
The siblings Hansel and Gretel are left alone in the woods by their father and captured by a dark witch in a candy house. However, they kill the witch and escape. Years later the orphans Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) have become famous witch hunters. When eleven children go missing in a small village, the Mayor summons Hansel and Gretel to rescue them. Upon arrival, the siblings save the red haired Mina (Pihla Viitala) from the local sheriff (Peter Stormare) who is accusing Mina of Witchcraft. Soon they discover that the Blood Moon will approach in three days and the powerful dark witch Muriel (Famke Janssen) is responsible for the abduction of the children. She intends to use the children together with a secret ingredient in a Sabbath to make the coven of witches protected against fire. As Hansel and Gretel race against time and fight off powerful witches, they begin to learn some mysterious secrets about their parents.
I have to give this movie a little bit of credit. They took what is ordinarily a short and simple fairy tale and did practically nothing to change it. The whole classic fairy tale is done during the prologue of the movie before the opening credits start rolling. This movie is about what happened afterwards and hints at creative underlying motives of the characters. The fairy tale is not corrupted or reinterpreted; just expanded. I liked that, and it gave Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters some potential to be an interesting and fun movie.
Of course, they didn't actually make it interesting or very fun. The movie starts out with some exciting action scenes chasing and killing witches with ridiculous weapons that would seem at home in a Final Fantasy video game, but then it slows down a whole lot. Hansel develops a romantic interest with Mina and Gretel meets up with a troll. Most of these scenes don't seem to do much for the story overall. I realize a movie like this isn't going to be profound by any means, but during these scenes it's almost like it's flailing around to achieve some deep character development. That's respectable, but seems so perfunctory and not well thought out.
The movie is very predictable. With each character that is introduced, you can pretty accurately predict how each one was going to play out. I was never wrong. I did, however, appreciate that there wasn't an insipid teenage love triangle forced into the story. We have too much of that rubbish already. One inconsequential detail about Hansel's character that I liked a whole lot was the fact that because he was force fed candy as a kid in the candy cottage, he now has diabetes and has to take regular insulin shots. That makes sense, and is not something I had ever considered. It really has no meaningful role in the movie, but it was kind of a neat detail.
The special effects were kind of hit or miss. The CGI lacked refinement and looked very much like it was computer-generated imagery; the blood and gore looked almost silly, but was better than that of Sharknado. The practical effects were decent, though. The aforementioned troll was all animatronics and looked pretty good. Exploding heads and other such nastiness looked good for what it was. It's not exactly my cup of tea, but that's appealing to some viewers.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is an interesting genre mash up. The fantasy isn't half bad, the action is ridiculous and hard to take seriously, the comedy usually falls flat, and the horror is more like "somewhat gross" than it is actually scary. There's several F-bombs and other profanity which I didn't really feel was necessary; the profanity and gore gives it an R rating. The story slows in the middle, but the beginning and end is pretty exciting. In the end it's not a very good movie and isn't as much fun as it tries to be. It's little bit better than Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter; it doesn't quite achieve what it's trying to be. It's okay if you just want to watch some senseless violence that doesn't require much thought, and even then it's barely worth the price to rent. Otherwise, don't bother.

I know I've asked before, but what other dark fairy tale revisions would you like to see?

No comments:

Post a Comment