Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Movie Review ... Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters


hansel and gretel posterA recent Hollywood trend has been to turn cherished nursery stories on their head.  Giving the dark tales more of a wicked spin, so far this approach has worked.  ‘Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters’ finds the original story’s protagonists all grown up and ready to kick butt.  They certainly do a lot of it as they cut a swathe through magical forests and our child-hood memories.

Fifteen years after their terrifying ordeal in the gingerbread house, Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) now hunt witches.  No longer victims now mystical predators, they are hired by a township frightened of a powerful evil.  In the form of sorceress Mureil (Famke Janssen), she wreaks havoc with abandon.  Hansel and Gretel attempt to defeat the horrid maven with their wits and weapons always at the ready.

Although having a nice macabre-feel and some finely realised action ‘Hansel and Gretel’ is very generic.  If you’ve seen ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and 2012’s ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ then you’ve basically seen this.  Sharing more than a passing resemblance to the latter, it borrows its template in having a contemporary feel within a classical setting.  This time it doesn’t work as it goes over-board with too many modern touches with events often portrayed as something from a Rambo movie.

Despite not having a unique identity and occasionally a little too blood-thirsty, ‘Hansel and Gretel’ is generally campy fun.  Nothing can be taken too seriously and the performers spout their lines with tongue firmly in cheek.  Janssen has a good time chewing the scenery as the wicked witch and the story is told with minimal padding.  The make-up people have a field day with the various witches who each have their own powers which add a bit of freshness.

Lacking much-needed spark, ‘Hansel & Gretel’ is nonetheless entertaining enough.  It could have been better had it not looked over its shoulder at what worked in other films and established its own persona.  Maybe the inevitable sequel will do this and allow the producers to put their own stamp on things with as much zeal as the witch-hunting characters.


Movie Review Rating out of 10:  6

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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