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[Movie Review] Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

Let’s be honest: Wouldn’t you become a Witch Hunter if a witch tried to kill you?

Part of me wishes that had been this years Van Helsing. Bloated with set pieces, a Witch Hunting sister in tight leather and bloody deaths. What’s not to love?
Instead, it tries to have big characters and a small simple plot but the problem is the plot like the movie’s run time is a little thin.
Hansel and Gretel played respectively by Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner are brought into the woods by their father one night and have an deadly encounter with a witch when they’re young and after stuffing the old hag in her own oven they decide to hunt witches or at least the voice over from Hansel tells us.
The animated opening sequence shows us their deeds as they grow up until a title card tells us it’s years later.
Now, I am all for voice overs or title cards when used properly but the plot starts to thin when there’s no explanation of what happened to their parents and why they never went home.
Let’s ignore the thin plot and focus on the leather clad siblings armed with the steampunk weapons fighting witches. This movie should have had enough of everything for everyone. Like last year’s Fright Night.
There’s witches abound in this movie. Both good and bad. There’s a brief moment of universe building when a bad witch mocks a good asking her exactly what is she gonna do? That moment like several other lovely moments don’t make a complete film.
The bad witches are cleverly designed but are never given enough plot to remember their names except they are being led by Muriel played by Famke Janssen. Turns out there’s a way to keep witches from catching on fire and the children they’ve captured from the town is on list of ingredients.
Unfortunately, the town and its people are given just enough story but not enough for the audience to care about. The mayor and the sheriff are at odds with each other since the sheriff played by Peter Stormare wants the two witch hunters out of his town so he can deal with the witch problems his way.
The sheriff’s way ends a little bloody for his hunters and later on himself. His problem with Hansel and Gretel is one note.
I would have taken even a line or two or even a monologue about the effect Hans and Gret’s hunting has turned the neighboring woods into the last safe house for witches and in turn made the town a buffet but nope, nothing.
The body parts and blood start racking up when the witches arrive in town to kidnap the last child, rescue their captured sister, the set pieces go boom and film picks up with expanding the universe a bit.
I mentioned the make up for the witches before and something else stands out: Edward the Troll. Yep, Edward. I don’t know if it was a knock at Twilight or not but Edward the Troll and his scenes with Gretel help the movie. Thankfully, Gretel is not eye candy, she can defend herself and yes she has to be saved from the Sheriff during a beat down with his goon squad by Edward but otherwise Gemma walking around in leather is not camera humped except for one scene with a fanboy.
The fanboy wants to be a hunter too but thankfully Gretel tells him it’s not the weak.
Hansel is walking proof of that with a disease that sounds like a deadly form of diabetes he has scars that show he’s only human. And the amount of times he’s tossed in, at and out of trees you wonder how he’s still standing. While Gretel has drooling fanboy after her, Hansel’s scenes with accused witch, Mina played by Pihla Viitala are handled well enough.
The plot runs thread bare when the duo find their old house and surprise surprise: a witch’s den underneath it.
Remember that opening scene? Wanna know why Hansel and Gretel seem so impervious? Wanna know why Famke said she took this movie to pay for her mortgage?
The flashback scene that Muriel gives them is a shorthand info dump that if the movie had another 30mins to play things out it would have been flowed easily but instead, nope, they’ve come home and for some reason don’t even remember the town they used to live on the outskirts of.
The final battle between Hansel, Muriel, Gretel, the fanboy and more witches you can shake a stick at starts off rather well and ends exactly where the movie began.
The movie’s coda is somewhat refreshing since Hansel and Gretel have a Scooby Gang to work with. It’s a big door for a sequel which may not even happen but with Resident Evil now on it’s fifth movie who knows.
This could have been this year’s The Mummy or worse this year’s Van Helsing but with 88 minutes of f-bombs and blood doesn’t slow down enough to be as bloated as Helsing and doesn’t give it’s actors enough script for Mummy.
It’s worth a morning matinee but I wouldn’t spend the money on the 3-D.

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