January 25, 2013 by Vinnie Leduc
I’ve had my eye on this “classic tale, new twist” ever since I first saw the trailer. I thought maybe Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, an ultraviolent tongue-in-cheek monster mash-up about the now grown-up brother-and-sister duo shootin’ and slicin’ their way through an action-packed adventure, could offer some decent entertainment and 3D, much like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, one of our picks for best 3D and best horror movies of 2012. Or maybe it would try to do way too much in mixing genres and become a disappointing hot mess like The Man With the Iron Fists. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the latter.
Hansel & Gretel‘s main problem is that it throws in tons of potentially good ingredients into a witch’s cauldron and expects that their presence magically conjures up a passable spell for audiences. First of all, when and where the hell is this? Everybody has different accents, even the titular brother and sister! I saw steampunk stuff, medieval things, crossbows, shotguns, chain guns… it was like half of the Sucker Punch action sequences compressed into one fantasy world. As a horror film, Witch Hunters fails overall but does have a couple of creepy moments. As a dark comedy, it fails horribly. This was the recipe for the jokes that pass for comedy in Hansel & Gretel: 1) Take a one liner. 2) Insert F-bomb. 3) Short pause to allow for any laughter.
However, as an action movie, Hansel & Gretel is okay, even sometimes pretty good, especially in one scene involving a troll. The creature design and makeup help make the witches and the action become the movie’s highlights. A film about witch hunting better have some bitchy witches, and they certainly don’t disappoint here. They look sick, behave despicably, and Famke Janssen eats her part up deliciously and devilishly. Nobody else, including multiple Oscar-nominated Jeremy Renner, shows signs of brain activity. Too bad cuz Renner proved recently in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, The Avengers, and The Bourne Legacy that he can handle an action gig with great results.
Giving his character diabetes as a result of the first witch feeding him too much candy as a child for a few hours (or days?) is kind of a creative plot device, but that’s still pretty stupid even if whatever fantasy world Hansel & Gretel live in takes plenty of liberties when it comes to making sense. The only thing that did make sense, the action and the witches, should’ve been supported with some good 3D, but the movie doesn’t excel there despite half of it having been shot in the format. Never funny enough to be fun, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is too unbalanced as it tries to juggle too many genres. If anything, wait for its release on video if you need some mindless, bloody noise. Otherwise, don’t feed Hansel & Gretel, and don’t stay for the extras during the credits. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters gets 1.5 out of 5 stars.