I’m pretty sure not too long ago in one of my reviews I was ranting about how current movies are unoriginal and lacking that certain spark. It seems they continue to try and reinvent the same plot over and over and quality movies are few and far between. I was way past becoming burnt out on fairy tales, rewritten fables, and the cliché boy meets girl and falls in love story. Needless to say, when I was told I was going to be reviewing Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, I expected nothing short of dull and redundant. I truly wanted to hate this movie. The trailers that I saw prior to screening this film reminded me of one of the worst folklore movies, Van Helsing. That film had potential but anyone who saw it was left bored and unsatisfied. Unfortunately, because of this lack of luster, I expected the same from Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. However, this new film claims to be a classic tale with a new twist and might just be breaking the mold. It surely surprised me, and that’s hard to do.
I hope that enough of you know the classic tale of Hansel and Gretel. Kids get lost in the woods, stumble across a house made of candy, and enter the witch who then attempts to eat small children. It’s a fable that attempts to show young readers not to be so careless, gluttonous, and all around bad things. This movie gets its storyline along those guidelines as well…but, with a twist. In this film, Hansel and Gretel (Jeremy Renner, Avengers, and Gemma Arterton, Clash of the Titans, respectively) are taken out into the woods by their father to hide from a witch. After escaping from the candy house, the sibling duo makes a career out of expelling witches and rescuing others from dark witches. During one such quest against evil, the pair becomes aware of a plot to collect children for an event called the Blood Moon by an exceptionally powerful witch named Muriel (Famke Jannsen, X-Men). The pair meet a young witch hunter named Ben (Thomas Mann, Project X) and Hansel rescues a girl accused of witchcraft named Mina (Pihla Viitala, Red Sky). Together they take on Muriel and her collective to rescue the children and prevent the Blood Moon ceremony which would make the witches impervious to fire.
Where do I begin? I absolutely loved this movie. I say that genuinely because I thought this movie was going to tank horribly! I wasn’t aware this film was rated R until I sat down for it and quickly checked a plot from imdb.com. I was surprised but not as surprised as I was the first time Hansel exploded someone’s head! I don’t even remember why he did it. I just know I expected to watch a fairy tale written by Sesame Street and got one written by Rob Zombie instead. Seriously, if you aren’t a fan of gory or graphic movies then cover your eyes kiddos because this movie is full of it. It is perfect, and sets the tone for the entire movie. It is twisted in that delightful sort of way.
The effects for this film are amazing and completely threw me for a loop. What was even more amazing was the makeup art done for all of the witches. In one scene, there are probably close to twenty different witches, and they are all completely different and elaborately detailed. There are conjoined witches stuck to each other, witches with crazy elaborate skin detail, and witches of all different and brilliant colors. Each specific one sticks in your head as being unique and imaginative just like the rest of the movie. The costume work is also detailed and creative which allows the characters to mesh really well with the extravagant weapons Hansel and Gretel use to fight the witches throughout the movie. It would edge on the ridiculous side of any other movie that threw in a mini gun or an electrifying taser into a pre-1700’s era film. However, the action is so literally brain-stomping that you don’t even care and completely ignore it.
I love a really gripping, breath-holding, action sequence, and this movie is full of movement. There isn’t a single moment I stopped and thought about anything but what was going on right at that second and that’s what makes a really good action movie. I had to force myself to find things I didn’t like about this movie. The witches at times sound a lot like velociraptors with their gurgling and clicking noises that are used, I would imagine, to make them seem less human. I can also believe some people would find it hard to stomach nine year olds shoving women into furnaces and holding hands while they watch her scream. Some people are too sensitive though. I liked the stabbing and killing, so to each their own, right?
All in all, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is an exceptional action flick that is going to keep anyone, even the most conservative gore hater interested. You really can’t look away from it for fear of missing the next. I truly hope the R rating doesn’t keep it from being successful. If anything, go because Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner are pretty and stay because you learn who Edward is; a lovable ass-kicking troll who could give the Hulk a run for his money. Personally, I haven’t seen such an awesome character since Sloth from the Goonies. Watch and be very happy.
I give Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters 4.5 “Curses for the Hunger of Crawling Things” out of 5.
by Jason Burleson