Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.



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Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

Film #211


In this spin on the fairy tale, Hansel & Gretel are now bounty hunters who track and kill witches all over the world. As the fabled Blood Moon approaches, the siblings encounter a new form of evil that might hold a secret to their past.

Year 1, Day 208

BEFORE: For the first time this month, the film of the day will not be a nominee or winner of Best Picture. I’m actually quite proud of myself that I was able to get through twenty-three days mostly sticking with the schedule I had planned, but alas, it’s finally deviating (I did plan ahead for possible changes, so not that much chaos should ensue). Anywho, the film is Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and it stars Jeremy Renner (last seen in The Bourne Legacy) and Gemma Arterton (last seen in a very small role in Pirate Radio).

AFTER: To me, Hansel and Gretel are the people who leave crumbs behind so they can find they’re way home. I wasn’t expecting anything like that going into this film; I knew it would be much more modernized and action-focused and that’s exactly what I got. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is not a good film, but it is a good action film.

A film that might come to mind is any of the Transformers films. Those seem to be the go-to citations for a film that has little to no plot but is still entertaining to watch because it has plenty of eye-candy. Hansel & Gretel is similar but it has the added benefit of a semi-decent story. One of the biggest keys to this film’s success is the two main leads, Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as the titular leads Hansel and Gretel respectively. They make the characters much more interesting which in turn makes for much more engaging action. You won’t be deeply concerned about these character’s well being nor too much about the relationships they form but you also won’t find yourself completely disconnected; it’s the Goldilocks principal - you care about them just enough. From there, you can really let go for most of the film and just enjoy the ample eye candy (and physical candy as well). There’s quite a bit of carnage (one aspect of which I have a slight problem) so if your squeamish I’d avoid watching, but if you can tolerate exploding bodies, pulverized heads, and liquified brains, it’s quite the fun romp.

But how about the story? Well it’s not going to win any Oscars but it gets the job done. For the most part it focuses on the good - Hansel, Gretel, and gore - and leaves typically important things like development by the wayside. I did like how they handled the backstory of these two main protagonists, but other than that it was filled with a lot of expected occurrences and a few deus ex machina moments (Hansel’s potion, Edward, and the all-powerful invincibility spell among others). Again, it wasn’t a bad story, but it’s a lot of the same-old, factory-produced filler that’s coming out of Hollywood. And before I forget, my complaint about the carnage. There isn’t a definitive time period that’s stated but based on the production design it’s very clear it’s sometime in the 1800s; well everything except the weapons and gadgets that Hansel and Gretel are toting around. The two-barrel shotguns and small revolvers are acceptable, but high-powered semi to fully automatic machine guns, crossbows, and makeshift defibrillator are just downright anachronistic or even nonexistent. It is a fantasy story so I guess these things are acceptable, but with the automatic crossbow especially I had a hard time believing.

If you’re going into Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters expecting some high quality film, first off, what is going through your mind, and secondly, you’re looking for the wrong film. But there’s still a lot to like about these classic fairy tale characters on the big screen. It’s filled with fantastic action and eye candy and is something to sit down and relax to. Not sure I’d recommend seeing it in theaters, but consider watching when it comes to Netflix or your streaming provider of choice.

(Side notes: the screening was in IMAX 3D, well, LieMAX. It also featured a sneak peek of the upcoming G.I. Joe: Retaliation which will be playing in front of the film in theaters. I can safely say that if I do see this film in theaters, I will be avoiding the 3D version like the plague - it was horrific.)

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters opens in theaters tomorrow, January 25, 2013.

RATING: 3 out of 5