Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters – 2013

Writer and Director Tommy Wirkola
Starring Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen, Peter Stromare, Pihla Viitala, Derek Mears, Robin Atkin Downes, Thomas Mann

Hansel and Gretel as children look to be less than a year apart.  When we see them as adults, in the forms of Gemma Arterton (27) and Jeremy Renner (42), one has to wonder where the time went for Gretel.  It’s the first detail I noticed in watching the trailer some time ago.  The second thing I noticed was the automatically firing crossbow held by Gretel.  That was the kind of thing they had in Hugh Jackman’s version of Van Helsing.  At the time it seemed an ingenious idea to blend into a film that took place in the late 19th century.   After watching that film, and countless others since, it is obvious that it’s only because the film makers want to blow crap up without having to be too creative.

A lot of ugly broads get shot, stabbed, beaten, burned and otherwise inconvenienced in by Hansel and Gretel.  It should be something other than comically entertaining.  For some reason, Wirkola forgets that women have charm that might be used to accomplish their goals of general survival.  That Janssen portrays the lead should have lent some ability in this area.  The erstwhile Xenia Onatopp does nothing here to entice anyone.  Instead, we get cracked gray faces along with bodies, heads and other things blown asunder with no thought or common sense applied whatsoever.

To say that Hansel & Gretel is an awful film is to diminish from it’s power.  It is more than awful.  Funny when it tries to be serious and sobering when it tries to be funny, it offers absolutely nothing in the realm of a lesson, like the fable it is based upon.  It is still mystifying the number of horrible films being made from stories by The Brothers Grimm is staggering.  These stories were meant to enlighten children on the dangers of the world, and they do this by scaring the hell out of them.  Here, we see Hansel getting it on with a chick that he helped to save from sure death in the “healing waters” of a pond under a large tree.  The only thing we discover here is he likes red heads.

In the next scene we have Mike Honcho (Stromare) beating the hell out of Gretel until a very large Ogre takes pity on her and puts his foot down.  The Ogre looks somewhere between a cartoon and a dude wearing a Jay Leno mask.

Enough about the good stuff, though.  The only film of Wirkola’s I had seen before was the foreign language, but promising Dead Snow.  One could have watched that film with the sound down and got better dialogue than we get here.  I could listen to Janssen all day when she speaks in her native (Dutch) tongue, or even that decent Russian accent that she used in GoldenEye.  Hearing her punishing English pound out the plot details that anyone could have guessed would make me want to pull a knife on her, too.

So now Renner has his massively crappy film under his belt (and a sequel to be made, too), and Arterton is in just another loud film (Clash of the Titans, Prince of Persia) with cartoonish special effects.  It is important to remind oneself that all of these actors are capable of doing good work.  And this stuff…

So you see nudity, and you get plenty of gory violence, oh, and the F-word.  At least they did not make it PG-13.

But the important thing is we learned that in this big old world, there is more than one type of Witch.  Knowing this helps, especially when you need to know which direction to point the massive machine gun.

(*1/2 out of *****)

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