I Saw A Film Today… Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

Hansel/GretelHollywood and it’s trends rarely impress me. Sometimes it has the ability to make me laugh. Often though I just shrug and tell myself “well, at least it won’t last long”. This recent fascination with hipsterizing, or more appropriately Twilighting, classic fairy tales has been less than fruitful.  Most notably last years dreadful Snow White & The Huntsman.  So I went into Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters with little to no expectations. And I was surprised at how enjoyable it was.

Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) are a sibling team of witch hunters in the German countryside. Their career of witch hunting (No wizards? Guess that’s for the sequel.) stems from their childhood where they were tortured by a witch with a fetish for watching kiddos eat candy. Now they go around the countryside as bounty hunters for hire for villages terrorized by an enchantress.

For the purposes of this adaption, the duo find themselves in the town of Augsburg, where some witches have been stealing children from their beds (real pedophiles, witches). But when the two start digging into the problem they uncover a larger plot that could throw the whole world into darkness. For Hansel and Gretel to save the day, they must confront a powerful wizard (Famke Janssen), trolls, and even their childhood.

Hansel & Gretel is a campy action film with 80’s fantasy flair. Its only purpose is to entertain, and to that extent it does it well. And it’s a darling for the studios and theaters. It sells tickets, popcorn, hot dogs. It can be made into sequels for cheap and big name actors can get a big payoff starring in them. But few are well crafted and enjoyable. But this one is.

But I’m guessing more enjoyable if viewed not in 3-D. I have yet to understand why the films that are mostly filmed in the dark are the ones who get the stereoscopic treatment. All you get is a murky result. There was a scene at the beginning of this film that takes place in a forest- or at least that what I believe happened. The only reason I know the bulb didn’t go out on the projector is because you could faintly make out a pasty child’s face. Stereoscopic films should be bright and sunny, not dark and Gothic. Just my opinion.

Performances here are what you expect from standard action film. Good performances but nothing that warrants remembrance. Jeremy Renner is comfortable in a film in this genre. It’s a physical role. One that requires little dialogue and lots of movement. The same can be said about Gemma Arterton. Looking through her filmography, it’s pretty clear she likes this type of film. And she does well in them. Like a young Milla Jovovich. As for the rest of the cast, it’s a usual mix of young upstarts and no-names. Oh, and Peter Stormare. Always nice to see that chap.

I had a lot of fun with Hansel & Gretel, which I didn’t expect from this film to be honest. It’s nothing special, but it is a exciting film in a genre that has grown stagnant and, frankly, boring. I look forward to Hansel & Gretel 2.

Verdict: Rent it!

*Rated R for strong fantasy horror violence and gore, brief sexuality/nudity, and language.

** Thanks to Marla for sharing this cinematic adventure with me.

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