‘Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters’ Movie Review – Big Budget Bust
I don’t like the idea that Hollywood has run out of ideas. Unfortunately, I tend to agree that studios are more willing to crank out adaptations of old tales, rather than taking risks on new, original ideas. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters isn’t really anything new, and it’s as woeful as they come, squandering the one good part about the movie – it’s MPAA rating – and wasting a $50 million budget.
The movie brags through its tagline: “classic tale, new twist,” and the “twist” is that the plot is a continuation of the classic fairy tale. Virtually all of us know the classic story, so the idea of continuing it is a good thought…on paper.
Hansel and Gretel are the two siblings that find a house made of candy and are tricked by an old, hungry witch. Eventually, they escape and burn the witch alive. The end (of the fairy tale).
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters picks up after these events, and it continues along in a pretty obvious manner, given the title. The older Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) set out to rid the world of evil witches. When a bunch of kids go missing, the townspeople turn to the brother-sister combo to stop the witches before the rare Feast of the Blood Moon (it’s apparently some ritual to slaughter children).
It turns out, though, that just because they are witch hunters, doesn’t mean they are particularly good at hunting witches. In fact, they suck at it. The movie opens with an entertaining animation showing us how the two have grown up not only killing, but destroying, all kinds of witches. When the actual movie gets going, it’s more about creating as many close-up combat shots as possible, forcing every single character to be thrown across the screen at some point or the other.
It was also strange that the two title characters weren’t really together that often. Going into it, I kind of expected it to be about two badass hunters scouring the countryside slaying evil witches.
The leader of the witches (Famke Janssen) doesn’t get established until the back half of the film. But, she’s given absolutely nothing to do. In fact, it’s pointless to really call her a leader because she’s just the prettiest of the witches; she’s just the one we can distinguish from the others.
To me, these still weren’t the worst parts either! There is a bit of conflict in the middle, but it’s all pointing towards the climax – the inevitable showdown.
Talk about a letdown.
One of the only redeeming qualities up to the finale was the decision to make the story as brutal as possible. It’s billed as an action-adventure horror film, and they got their money’s worth out of the R rating. With countless curse words and exploding heads, I am happy they didn’t try to make this a family-friendly tale. Looking at the source material, though, the fairy tale isn’t exactly something we should be reciting to our kids.
Still, the action climax was one of the laziest finales I can remember. If the film hadn’t lost the audience yet, making up mysterious potions and adding in half-assed plot tricks should’ve surely dashed the rest of the skeptics. Then, we’re essentially left with a shootout that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense (when is this story supposed to be taking place? And why do all the characters have guns?).
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is exactly the ammunition movie haters need to point at the ridiculousness of movie budgets. There’s no reason $50 million (that’s over $550,000 a minute) needed to go into this story. For what it’s worth, Arterton seemed like a small bright spot, and I do like the idea of a super-violent fairy tale – especially when it’s a continuation (and not a simple re-telling). However, the execution is horrendous, and the lazy story and script is the root of the problem.
Not even a sexy witch hunter throwing out F-bombs could save that.
See the movie this weekend in wide release and comment below to agree or disagree with my take.
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