Directed by: Tommy Wirkola
Starring: Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton
Running Time: 88 minutes
Once upon a time (read: 2004), Universal Studios brought the nostalgia of horror icons into the action/adventure genre and created “Van Helsing,” a film that performed well in the box office but not with the critics. A year later, “The Brothers Grimm” pulled fairy tales into the mix and started a trend of beefing up children’s stories that continues today with films like “Red Riding Hood,” “Snow White and the Huntsman” and television shows like “Grimm” and “Once Upon a Time.”
“Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” is the most recent product of this profitable fad. As in the original story, Hansel and Gretel (Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton) kill an evil witch in order to escape a candy house; however, in this adaptation they decide to devote the rest of their lives to hunting the enchantresses. Of course, these aren’t your average broomstick–and–cauldron witches. Hansel and Gretel, armed with Gatling guns, grenades and a crossbow that shoots sideways, battle scaly monsters who are skilled at martial arts, parkour and generating plot devices. The film is definitely fun and benefits from the copious amounts of gore and profanity its R rating allows.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much past the mist of blood and body parts. The meager plot is strung together by cheesy one–liners that add charm but not substance. Although it’s clear early on that the plot is unimportant, it certainly would have given the audience more to think about between action sequences than “when do they start killing witches again?” It appears the majority of the budget was spent on impressive CGI and the star power of the two leads, who understandably phone in their performances.
“Hansel and Gretel” is fun and action–packed with cool guns, pools of blood and a barrage of one–liners but ultimately unsatisfying. Although it’s fitting for an entertaining movie night with friends, if you’re looking for something that requires a brain, hunt elsewhere.
Our Grade: C–
Rating and Runtime: R, 88 min.
See if you liked: “The Brothers Grimm”