Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is a fairy tale retelling/ continuation film that was released at the cinema in the UK on 27th February. The film is rated 15 due to language and bloody violence and it has a run time of 88 minutes.
Following the Brothers Grimm’s famous tale Hansel and Gretel, as young children they are abandoned in the woods leaving them to fend for themselves. However, they come across a house made out of candy and are soon lured into the home of a witch who tries to fatten up Hansel so she can eat him. Not being your average children, Hansel and Gretel manage to fight and kill the witch themselves, learning that burning them is the best way to ensure death.
Years later, the siblings are now famous witch hunters, with towns all over seeking them out to rid them of their witch problems. In the town of Augsburg 11 children have already gone missing. Hansel and Gretel arrive just in time to stop a young woman being accused of being a witch being burned to death. After talking to the townspeople and finding out a few things, they learn of the Blood Moon and realise they may finally be in over their heads.
What I thought
After writing my dissertation on fairy tales, I’m pretty addicted to anything to do with them – they’re a bit of a passion of mine now. Although I’m not the biggest fan of retellings that go too far, I still wanted to see this film just to see what it was like.
I really liked the opening to Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters as it stuck quite close to the original story. Well, with Hansel and Gretel being left on their own and finding a house made out of yummy things. The young actors playing the characters do a great job, especially young Gretel as she fights like hell to save her brother from a fiery furnace. The opening really sets the scene for what is about to come: a hell of a lot of fighting and some bloody ugly looking witches.
Jeremy Renner as Hansel and Gemma Arterton as Gretel, the grown up versions of the characters obviously. After what happened to them as children, the siblings are out for blood and travel all over in search of witches to kill. The pair get on well as siblings, with a healthy banter between the two and I thought Renner and Arterton worked well together on screen. However, Renner lacks conviction and likeability as Hansel while Gretel is likeable and definitely kicks ass. I was sad to see that Renner wasn’t all that good in this role though as I have liked him in quite a few other films. Arterton seems to be great at whatever she does though and the boys will enjoy her in some tight leather costumes at the same time as watching her do her thing.
This is a film that doesn’t lack in blood and gore. Set in a strange looking time, a mix of old and the future, Hansel and Gretel have some pretty interesting toys for killing witches with. This is mostly the reason why this film is rated 15. The filmmakers have come up with some very inventive ways of killing people which will satisfy those who like this kind of thing. I saw the film in 2D so I didn’t get to witness the full effects of 3D. I can only imagine how many bits of flesh would come flying at you at full speed. I’m not the most squeamish of girls and I did actually really enjoy the action and the fight scenes. My cousin is 15 and wanted to see this but I did have to warn her about what it was like because she definitely wouldn’t have the stomach for it.
Famke Janssen is a wonderful actress and in my eyes, she always plays an amazing baddie. She does so here as Muriel, the big bad witch. Janssen’s character is partially shown as herself while a really ugly witch at others. The make-up of all of the witches in this film was spectacular and I would think that anyone coming across one of them would want to run for their lives. Janssen plays the role with so much determination and perfection, that she is incredibly creepy, scary and evil all at the same time. While there were some other good cast members/ characters, Janssen plays the best hands down and she also gives the best performance by far.
As for the plot, it is a little farfetched and make up in regards to the original fairy tale. However, I did like the twist that the story was given. If Hansel and Gretel did ever survive, I can imagine that they would want revenge, especially when the witches are so evil. The script tries to be funny, while failing most of the time. There were a few humorous lines here and there but mostly, the lines came across as extremely forced, especially from Renner. Unfortunately, this is a film that tries too hard in the wrong places. It is clearly an action film and tries too hard to have a substantial plot line and a clever script but this is where the film fails badly.
Overall though, I did really enjoy Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters but it’s probably one to wait for when it comes out on DVD.