Have you ever wondered what life would be like for a fairytale character, after the “…and they lived happily ever after.”? Cinderella 2 and 3 and The Little Mermaid 2 personally kind of made me give up that idea. Though, when I saw that the two children who survived a man-eating witch by killing her became gun totting witch hunters, I knew I needed to give it a chance. Fortunately, I was not disappointed.
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, written and directed by Tommy Wirkola, expands upon the tale of Hansel and Gretel; the German folk fairy tale of a brother and sister with really crappy parents, who get taken to the woods to get lost and perhaps die but end up finding food and shelter with a witch who has a taste for flesh. The parents in this expanded story are actually just trying to protect their children by having them get lost in the forest and end up leaving them near the front yard of a man-eating witch who abuses Gretel and forces Hansel to eat lots of sweets… seriously, do these people not have relatives or know where the nearest orphanage is located?
The good news is, they survive, and this story focuses on the adults they became. The beginning credits fill in the gap between their childhood and adulthood of vigilantism and bravery. An impressive pop-up story book journey in sepia tone with newspapers and “missing” posters that show the many children Hansel and Gretel saved from witches, shortly after their own ordeal. The real story begins with Hansel and Gretel ( played by Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton, respectively) saving a girl who is being tortured and accused of being a witch in the town square by the town sheriff and his lackeys. Hansel inspects the accused, a lovely woman named Mina (played by Pihla Viitala), he then explains to the ignorant towns people how witches should be identified , they show a decayed appearance. The devious and malicious Sheriff Berringer (played by Peter Stormare) is none too pleased with their arrival, but is quickly quelled by a swift headbutt from Gretel.
Already, the acting and writing show marks of excellence, with each action receiving the appropriate reaction; Hansel appearing to be ill and giving himself and injection everyday at the same time was one of many clever little way of fleshing out the adult versions of these characters. The comedic timing is spot on with one liners and timing.
The story continues as we meet the beautiful Muriel (played by Famke Janssen), a witch who terrorizes some the sheriff’s men and the local fanboy, Ben (played by Thomas Mann). Hansel and Gretel soon come to learn that their job to find the missing children has a far more sinister plot behind it and they have only three days to stop it.
The film transitions quickly from scene to scene, there are multiple choreographed fights with the witches that are quick and almost karate-like and cat-like, and the scenery and sets are quite detailed. I was most impressed with the interiors of the town than the exterior, the exteriors looked too set-like; like watching the behind the scenes footage verses watching the actual movie. The forest scenes were a little more convincing. The costumes for Hansel and Gretel were quite detailed, long leather coats with intricate designs. The weapons were also intricate and gave the film a bit more of a steampunk feel. I’m sure I’m not the only one who saw the phallic nature of Hansel’s gun. If you didn’t see it before, you’ll see it now.
The film uses very little CGI, which helps to keep the suspension of disbelief. Plenty of wire-fu type work and practical effects to keep you interested. The film also does have some plot twists and additional characters that were pleasant surprises and helped add richness to the story, such as a troll and a gang of witches.
I only really had two gripes about the movie. First of all, for a German folk fairytale, 80 to 90 percent of the cast speaking with American English accents was a bit of a turn off. Secondly, the trailers made it look like a PG-13 affair, when it was far from that, as there were surprising scenes of gore and nudity. Plenty of what you’d expect from Wirkola, who also directed and wrote Dead Snow. Otherwise, it was solid acting and imagery throughout the film.
In truth, anyone who has resolved to see the film, already has purely based on the premise and/or the poster, and those who haven’t either don’t know it exists and/or don’t care.
This movie is a must see in theaters and it wouldn’t hurt to see it in 3D, if you’re not against 3D by now.
8 out of 11
About the movie:
Synopsis: 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.
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Produced: Paramount Pictures, MGM, Gary Sanchez Productions
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen, Peter Stormare
Released: Jan 25th, 2013
I’m a gamer, film buff, local music supporter, anime enthusiast, and I love reading manga. I love music of all kinds, especially music that isn’t popular yet. I’m currently playing some old favorites: Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Destrega, Bloody Roar, and Metal Slug. My favorite current game is Beat Hazard, which you can now play on Android, IOS, Xbox360, PS3, MAC, and PC. If you love music and video games as much as I do (I love them so much), then you owe it to yourself to play it on your platform/s of choice, and support the one guy who developed the game with a purchase on one of the many platforms. I aspire to make video games myself with a little program called Unity. I also do my own electronic music. Kerosene Achieves Truth is my band, the genre is Experimental Electronica. I have a few tracks up now if you fancy a listen. Oh, and for anyone who’s curious, the best way to survive a zombie apocalypse is to get in a two-story home and block off the stairs. There are many ways to do that but just be aware that you will need to get in and out for the necessities via the upstairs windows. So be sure to have an easy way to get in and out using that as your entry and exit point. Zombies are horrible climbers, so rope will most likely be your best friend.