Writer and director Tommy Wirkola changes the Brothers Grimm classic to fit to the big screen with the chilling “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.” The film only stays true to the fairy tale in the beginning, as young brother and sister Hansel and Gretel are lured to a witch’s cottage covered with candy. If it followed the fable a bit more, it may have been able to axe its R rating, but the tale takes a twisted turn.
The film flashes forward to what could arguably be the Middle Ages, but with the duo’s advanced weaponry the time period is called into question. Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) create a career killing witches after their childhood kidnapping. Both have minor love interests, but the film is primarily about the family ties between brother and sister.
The film’s only noteworthy moments are the grueling graphics and 3-D technology. The deaths throughout the film were gruesome and gory but also entertaining. Whether it was a man eaten alive by maggots or a witch tossed in an oven like an apple pie, the death scenarios were inventive.
Besides blasting brains, blood and shooting arrows in the air, some of the freakiest 3-D graphics are brought by the main antagonist, Muriel, played by Famkee Jansen. Her shift from sexy to scary triggers an instant change in the tone and spearheads major fight scenes.
The dialogue lacked originality and was very on the nose. The director should have utilized the dynamic duo’s fighting to drive the drama as opposed to relying on the unnecessary one-liners to keep the audience entertained.
This was not either actor’s best work because there was no room for emotional growth throughout the film. Their relationship as siblings may have been believable, but they could have done more if the script had let them. Renner has fun with the flawed film and its absurdity with his monotone delivery and dry humor. His role may have been better than being outshined in “The Avengers,” but this was definitely not as good as his brilliant portrayal of a Boston bank robber in “The Town.”
If this movie came out during Halloween, it might have had potential to sell. With a failed attempt to be a haunting horror, the film is nothing more than 88 minutes of nonsense and a little bit of bravery from the characters.
Graphic film plays a spin on the fairy tale classic in “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.”