An over-bloody slapdash. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, as promised in the advertisements, puts a new twist on the classic story which is half-forgotten by people in this century. Is the twist shoddy special effects? Gobs of bad makeup? Dialogue by 10-year comic book fans? These kinds of movies, to be so easily forgotten a year later, get made to give young audiences a weekend matinee adrenaline rush for that transient right now in the moment. That rush is more a whimper, and in this case, it will be forgotten from most minds after the weekend’s over.
Three years ago I thought Jeremy Renner should have won an Oscar, but now, it appears he’s taken a paycheck to come on screen to act alternately tough or bashful as Hansel. Gemma Arterton has the most luminous flawless skin of any actress out there, but I see her more as someone who should be cast playing a princess who needs to be rescued instead of playing a down-and-dirty action heroine like Gretel.
In a turn of the century village, they co-opt together to annihilate bad witches. The townspeople howl for the blood of suspicious women, and Hansel and Gretel have an early scene protecting a good woman wrongly accused. The movie from there often jolts us into a new chase scene without preparing us. This is one of those movies where the heroes say something like, “You’re not going anywhere!” after catching a witch, only for the witch to break loose again for the chase to resume.
Famke Janssen is naturally sexy as the villainous witch (when she’s without the CGI ghoul-face look), and the brother and sister team go head-to-head with her a number of times until the scenes don’t go anywhere. Pihla Viitala is the beautiful redhead who is attracted to Hansel. Thomas Mann is the anachronistic fanboy of the witch hunters who uses words like “Awesome!”
The 3D is a dark shade on a dark picture. Director Tommy Wirkola (who also wrote the script) can compose a few good-looking shots but hasn’t a clue as to how to arrange them in editing. Some people shouldn’t direct. Razzie voters, take notice.
88 Minutes. Rated R.
ACTION FANTASY / CREATURE FEATURE / FRIDAY NIGHT SUCKFEST
Film Cousins: “Night Watch” (2005, Russia); “Red Riding Hood” (2011); “Season of the Witch” (2011); “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” (2012).