Hansel and Gretel have a lot to thank Van Helsing. Had it not been for Helsing, Hansel and Gretel would have had a very hard time being accepted by the audience. Instead, having watched the trailer, the audience was ready for another Van Helsing like debacle, and what they got was exactly that, only this time they came prepared and thus the disappointment was much less. It should also be noted though that I prefer Van Helsing over this film.
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is tacky, and that is also where its charm lies. Left in the jungle by their parents to fend against an evil witch, H&G grow up becoming the numero uno witch hunters of the region. Everything that has to do with the basic concept of the film is fine. There are witches stealing children to perform a ritual on the night of the “blood moon” that makes for the primary situation bringing together the entire story. There is a whole back story as to why Hansel and Gretel were left in the jungle in the first place. There are some high paced almost dizzying action sequences. But, there is no heart. The film just never really reaches the level of an out-and-out action film all the while just tiptoeing over the dramatic aspects of the various relationships between the characters.
What further disappoints is the lacklustre performances by almost all the actors. Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton in the title roles simply never come across as real heroes, pretty much relying on the use of the F-Word every now and then to get some lame laughs. Peter Stormare’s town Sheriff is more or less similar to the roles he usually takes, so although there is a hint of familiarity benefiting his character, there is also the predictability factor working against it.
I’ll admit that I do love the so called “twist” to the classic tale, but I did wish that Tommy Wirkola would have taken the film down a much darker route. Furthermore, the special effects are borderline acceptable.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters makes for a fun Sunday afternoon watch. Lacking genuine scares and with a thin storyline, it relies heavily on the general concept of the film. With an ending that is sure to spurt out a sequel, we can expect some more witch hunting, hopefully with a bit of original wit and charm this time.
PS: I watched the movie in good ol’ 2D. Not only am I against the fad that is 3D, but I also feel bad for anyone who paid extra to watch this film in the third dimension.