Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Abandoned by their father deep in a forest, young Hansel and Gretel enter a gingerbread house and are nabbed by the old witch who resides in it. The witch forces Hansel to continuously eat candy while making Gretel prepare the oven, but the siblings outsmart her and shove her into the oven’s fire, incinerating her. Throughout the fifteen years after the incident, Hansel and Gretel become famed bounty hunters dedicated to mercilessly eradicating witches, slaying over six hundred of them. Their work is relatively easy because, for an unknown reason, they are immune to spells and curses. Hansel, however, is diabetic as a result of his ordeal and needs to take a regular shot of insulin every few hours.

One day, in the town of Augsburg, Hansel and Gretel prevent Sheriff Berringer from executing Mina, a young woman accused of witchcraft. Mayor Englemann has hired the siblings to find and rescue several children abducted by witches. Berringer hires trackers for the same mission, hoping to show up the mayor for hiring Hansel and Gretel and to maintain his power in the town. However, all but one of the party are killed that night by the powerful grand witch Muriel, who sends the surviving member back to the town tavern to explode as a warning to the locals. Hansel and Gretel, with the help of the Mayor’s deputy Jackson, capture Horned witch and interrogate her. They discover that the witches are preparing for the ritual of Blood Moon, which requires sacrificing six boys and six girls, each born on a separate month. Suddenly, Muriel, Redhead witch, and a troll named Edward, attack the town and abduct the targeted girl. Muriel makes Jackson shoot himself, while Gretel is knocked unconscious but is brought to safety by a teenager named Ben, their local fanboy and an aspiring witch hunter. Hansel grabs a fleeing witch by her broomstick, but falls and is lost in the forest.

The next morning, Hansel is found by Mina, who takes him to a spring to heal his wounds. Meanwhile, Gretel enters the forest to search for him, but she is ambushed by Berringer and his enforcers. After the men beat her up, she is rescued when Edward, the witches’ troll servant, intervenes to kill the Sheriff and his goons and mend her injuries. When Gretel asks why he saved her, Edward answers that trolls serve witches and walks away. Hansel and Gretel reunite at an abandoned cabin, which they discover is not only their childhood home, but also a witch’s lair. Muriel appears in front of them, telling them the truth of their past. She reveals that Hansel and Gretel’s mother was a grand white witch named Adrianna, married to a farmer. On the night of the Blood Moon, the heart of a grand white witch is needed to create a potion that would make dark witches impervious to fire. As Adrianna was too powerful, Muriel targeted Gretel, who was revealed to be a grand white witch herself. Muriel spred a rumor across the village about Adrianna; to keep the siblings away from the lynch mob, their father left them in the forest before he was hanged, while their mother was burned at the stake. Following this revelation, the siblings battle Muriel before she stabs Hansel and abducts Gretel for the ceremony.

Hansel wakes up to the sight of Mina, who reveals herself to be a white witch. After Mina uses Adrianna’s spellbook to bless the siblings’ arsenal, Hansel, Mina, and Ben head to disrupt the Blood Moon Sabbath. Whilst Mina mows down many dark witches with a Gatling gun, Hansel squares off against Muriel’s minions and frees the children, while Edward defies Muriel’s orders and releases Gretel before Muriel throws him off the cliff. Muriel attempts to flee, but Ben shoots her off her broomstick. On her way to meet up with Hansel, Gretel finds Edward and uses her stun gun to defibrillate him back to life. Hansel, Ben, and Mina follow Muriel’s trail to the old gingerbread house. During the confrontation, Ben is wounded and Muriel fatally stabs Mina. The siblings then engage in a grueling fight against Muriel inside the gingerbread house, until they behead her with a shovel. In the end, Hansel and Gretel collect the rest of their reward for rescuing the children before embarking on their next hunt, with Ben and Edward joining them.

REVIEW:

Have you ever thought about what happens to some of your favorite fairy tale characters after the story ends? Take Hansel & Gretel, for instance. What really happened after they escaped the witches’ candy house? According to Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, they became witch hunters who travel from village to village eliminating the threat of witches. Yes, this is another one of those fairytales gone dark that Hollywood is throwing at us. You have been warned!

What is this about?

Fifteen years after outsmarting a sinister witch by pushing her into an oven, a now-grown Hansel and Gretel are pooling their wiles to take down witches as professional bounty hunters in this action-packed reimagining of the classic fairy tale.

What did I like?

Action. Unlike those Snow White films that came out last year, this one doesn’t waste time with useless dialogue and gets right to the action. Our heroes are kick-ass witch hunters with a bevy of gadgets and gizmos they’ve created to stop these abominations. There is plenty of witch gore to be seen, as well, which made the action that much better…at least for me.

Full circle. Starting things off with the story well know and love and then having the final confrontation happen in the same candy house (15 yrs later) was a masterful stroke of genius and a nice touch. Let’s face it, there are some younger and future viewers who have never heard the original tale of Hansel & Gretel, so retelling it set this film up and introduced this revamped origin.

R. Thank goodness someone had the balls to let this be the bloody, violent, profanity-laden piece of beauty that it was. I feel that this wouldn’t have been as effective in some sort of watered down, family friendly version that probably is what the studios wanted to have been released. This is a film about killing witches. What about that doesn’t sound R-rated to you?

What didn’t I like?

Gretel. Gemma Arterton is a beautiful woman, of that there is no question, but she is either horribly miscast in this role or doesn’t have the talent to go with the looks. I think it is more of the latter, because everything I’ve seen her in has her as a stoic, emotionless woman. I have two thoughts on this. First, this role was originally supposed to have gone to Noomi Rapace, who is best known for the European version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and over here in the states we saw her in Prometheus. This is not a warm, caring woman, at least in the roles she’s been cast in. The second thought is that this is just how this character was written and when Rapace dropped out, they just didn’t rewrite the character. I could be totally wrong, though.

Chemistry. I wasn’t feeling the love between Hansel & Gretel. I was reading a review on another site that said that Renner and Arterton didn’t even act like brother and sister. There is truth to that statement. As a matter of fact, except for the posing at the beginning, and a few scenes here and there, they are barely in any scenes together. No wonder they don’t have chemistry. I feel that they could have done a better job with how that was handled. If they wanted to keep them apart, fine, but there still needs to be some kind of connection between the two, and there wasn’t.

Dark and light. So, we get to the last 15 minutes or so and Famke Jensen’s character introduces the plot point of Hansel & Gretel’s mother being a good witch. My issue with this is timing. Here we are in the final act of the film, about to bring it all to a head and you introduce an element that would have been better introduced earlier. It just made no sense to me.

Modern. There is a steampunk feel to this film, which is fine if you’re into that. It isn’t my thing, but that isn’t my complaint. I have to mention Hansel’s “sugar sickness” shot. Two things about this…first, it is obvious that is nothing more than a diabetes shot. Apparently he developed it after eating all the candy at the witch’s house. Second, it is never brought up again, so why put it in there in the first place? It wasn’t necessary, didn’t move the story along, and it definitely wasn’t funny. I just didn’t get it!

I’m a little torn on Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. On the one hand, I really enjoyed how they took this ridiculous mashup plot and had fun with it, rather than taking itself too seriously a la Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. On the other hand, subpar special effects, no lead chemistry, and many other problems took away from my enjoyment. With that being said, though, I think this is still a nice little flick to watch if you get the chance. It’s not the greatest, to be sure, but surely you can get a couple of kicks out of it. Check it out!

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

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