Movie review: Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters by Tommy Wirkola

Directed by Tommy Wirkola
Screenplay: Tommy Wirkola, Dante Harper
Release date: 2013
Genre: Action/Horror/Comedy/Fairy tale

Cast:
Hansel: Jeremy Rennel
Gretel: Gemma Arterton
Dark witch Muriel: Famke Janssen
Mina: Pihla Viitala
Edward the troll : Derek Mears

Synopsis

You remember, I bet, one of the most popular Grimm fairy tales, Hansel and Gretel? Two kids abandoned by their parents in the middle of a forest who found a cottage made of sweets and a horrible witch inside? They outsmarted her and  shoved her into the fire.

Now they are back: still toghether, more lethal than before, wearing leather jackets and latex pants. Hunting witches for money – that’s what they do the best.


One day they are hired by Mayor Englemann from Augsburg to find and rescue several children abducted by witches. When they arrive, they prevent Sheriff Berringer from executing Mina, a young woman accused of witchcraft. Berringer hires trackers for the same mission, hoping to regain the respect of the Mayor. However, all but one of the party are killed that night by the powerful grand witch Muriel, who sends the surviving member back to the town tavern to explode as a warning to the locals. Hansel and Gretel, with the help of the Mayor’s deputy Jackson, capture a witch and interrogate her. They discover that the witches are preparing for the ritual of Blood Moon, which requires sacrificing six boys and six girls, each born on a separate month. Will our witch hunters manage to save them on time? What other secrets will be unveiled, concerning their own life? Who they can trust?

My impressions


Tommy Wirkola asked himself what  became of Hansel and Gretel when they grew up. The answer seemed such a simple one: obviously they became witch hunters. Such an elegant solution. What about the rest? Well…

First let me tell you that I love different adaptations and renderings of classic fairy tales so I was very eager to watch this one, especially as the director wanted to go several steps further than the actual fairy tale. He also did his best to entertain the wider audience.The project was filmed in Germany and featured an international cast and crew. There’s enough action, killing and gore to satisfy any gung ho movie-goer. Our Gretel is a buxom beauty, not afraid to show her assets; Hansel has a bit of romance with Mina, a girl he helped to save from the lynching mob and she isn’t exactly a shy virgin as well. Still while watching the movie I got a distinct impression everything was somehow a fake and, after a while, if I laughed it was out of sheer embarassment. ‘Style over substance’ is a good description of this one; I suppose it is always nice if you can switch off your brain and just let the narration take you whenever it is going…I admit I am not good at that.

Candy cottage in the shape of…the Sauron’s eye?

So what disturbed me the most? The movie was very uneven in tone, never even trying to reach those deeper meanings of the fairy tale it was based on. It was shallow. We got some great fighting scenes but also a generic German town full of dumb, fake inhabitants. The pair of protagonists used firearms and machine guns (and pray where did their ammunition come from?) but they didn’t know how to locate each other in case of emergency; you must admit that running like mad across the forest shouting ‘HANSEL’ is hardly a good way to solve that problem. Especially that you know that a very evil witch and a band of equally evil mercenaries are set loose in the vicinity. Hansel was a diabetic as a result of his former childhood ordeal and needed to take a regular shot of insulin every day BUT we are never shown where that insulin  is bought, how it is created and, most of all, how it is stored (if you don’t know – insulin MUST be stored in a fridge or it becomes useless!).

None of the witches had any backstory: they just seemed to exist for ornamental purposes and to be turned into mincemeat of course. Nobody even tried to explain what had made these women turn to dark witchcraft, risking their lives, apart from the obvious perks: donning tons of Goth make-up, very well-done I grant it, fancy, artfully torn clothes and flying  brooms… Would you die for a chance to paint your face or fly your broom though? I don’t think so. Overall the baddies were as thin as a sheet of paper so no pleasant surprises there.

Isn’t he lovely?

I had high hopes considering Edward the troll. I did enjoy a possibility that he might somehow turn into (don’t laugh at me now) a crush of Gretel. He was strong, he was sweet and caring, his heart and fists were on the right side. And on the left. Anyway where they should be. Unfortunately my imagination was thwarted again by the ugly schematic movie cliches: Edward apparently was cast as a troll version of a King-Kong: he did save Gretel and she said ‘thank you’ very nicely but then…it fizzled out brecause monsters cannot be your love interests.

An interesting tidbit: at the end Gretel was allowed two more or less permanent admirers but Hansel remained alone. I wonder why. To draw the ladies to the sequel (perish the thought)?

Final verdict

Was it really eighty-eight minutes of trash? More or less yes. Still  it puts forth one sound message: kids, avoid overindulging in sweets, especially if you see candy that doubles as drywall and other building elements. And remember, there is no such thing as ‘free candy’. However, if you have a problem with dark witches don’t hire Hansel and Gretel – they are very expensive amateurs. They don’t even know how to distinguish between a dark witch and a white witch. Pathetic.

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10 Responses to Movie review: Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters by Tommy Wirkola

  1. Blodeuedd says:

    DVD yes, cinema ha, no way

  2. Kelly says:

    Wow… That's just awful!! I, too, enjoy a modern take on a fairy tale, but… I think I'll run away from this one.

  3. heidenkind says:

    Sounds like it's on the same level as The Brothers Grimm.

  4. And you'll be perfectly right.

  5. I would say even a tad lower. The Brothers Grimm at least tried to explain something, this one is pure action.

  6. Aurian says:

    Wow, this does not sound like something I will enjoy watching. But I am one of those people who can mindlessly watch things and not question the insulin. I did see Die Hard 5 yesterday, and it was fun action.

  7. LOL I envy you, I truly do….

  8. carol says:

    Oh well. I'll still watch it when it comes out on DVD. Glad I didn't pay theater money to see it though.

  9. Yeah, DVD seems to be the only sensible option. Especially if they include some juicy extras 😉

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