Movie Review: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

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After their run-in with the witch as children, Hansel and Gretel become witch hunters, traveling the countryside killing witches until they’re brought back to their hometown to confront the past and the wicked Grand Witch.

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Tommy Wirkola

Hansel and Gretel is a B movie that knows it’s a B movie. It’s in a fantasy world of American accents and magic machine guns in medieval Germany, with monstrous and awesome-looking witches that plague small towns. Once such small town is being hounded by several witches, the children’s abductions causing tempers to run high. The townsfolk, all riled up by the always menacing Peter Stormare as the town law man, are hunting witches without the benefit of killer sibling team Hansel and Gretel’s superior knowledge. Hansel and Gretel are equally capableof kicking all kinds of butt, and both get in their fair share of scrapes through the movie. It’s a primarily female driven narrative, with the major conflict involving Gretel and the Grand Witch, played with some aplomb by Famke Janssen, who’s better out of make-up than in it. Despite it trying hard at equality, there’s still fridging and damseling, which is disappointing when there’s an awesome heroine like Gretel biting men’s noses off.

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Image by BLT Entertainment

The plot is paper-thin, but the fight scenes are inventive and the effects effective. Medieval weapons get some cool upgrades and both Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton, speaking in American accents with modern dialogue, get around in tight leather. Fans of both actors will have fun with this film; Jeremy Renner is satisfyingly dry and Gemma is tough but fair and does a good American accent (the only real question is why). It’s also satisfyingly bloody and makes good use of fire and explosions and rolling heads, enough to make up for a script where Hansel has to take insulin and an irritating fanboy becomes a major player. There are some cute little moments, like sticking “missing” posters of the kids on milk bottles and the double-sided crossbow. The relationship between the siblings is sweet and equal, and Gretel holds her own in a patriarchal society, although there is a nasty scene where she’s beaten by cops before being saved by a cool looking troll. When they’re split up the movie loses steam and a terrible “romantic” plot between Hansel and a village girl sucks a lot of the energy out of the film. Nothing about this movie is amazing, but it’s fun and moves along well and full of gory action.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters on IMDb

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