January 24, 2013
I couldn't believe my eyes when I first saw the poster for "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" because it actually puts together my two favorite current movie stars, Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton! I liked Gothic interpretations of fairy tales like "Snow White and the Huntsman". And I also liked the "supernaturalization" of historical figures like "Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter" a lot. This film seems to be a cross of those two types, and so is one film I made sure I would watch this once it opened.
Hansel and Gretel starts as we all know them from the fairy tale, children left by their parents in the woods. They were lured by a house made of candy, and was captured by the wicked witch who lived inside. We all know how the tale ends, when Hansel and Gretel push the witch into the oven. But that was just the beginning of the movie, for that was when this brother-sister team launch their career as mercenary witch hunters. When a mysterious series of missing children terrorizes a small town, its mayor hires Hansel and Gretel to look for the witches responsible and kill them.
That was one shallow story line I know, but I really enjoyed myself while watching this movie. Yes, the gore factor was really high, but everything appeared to be done with tongue strictly in cheek. The actors Renner and beautiful Arteron are unquestionable bad-ass in their leather outfits, their fighting skills and their powerful weaponry! They fit the titular roles very well. You will meet a new, more interesting "Edward" here. The CG and production design were quite good and imaginative. It was fun to spot traditional witch lore in the scenes, even as they took liberties to invent their own lore.
As I mentioned, the film does not shy from bloody violence, as the envelope is pushed to graphically show various mechanisms of death, from crushing to exploding - close-up! There was a brief scene of a nude village beauty Mina (Pihla Viitala) as she seduces Hansel. There were even unexpected modern-day swear words during the witch battles. With all of these scenes, I do not really know how it got a PG-13 rating in this country! Anyway, despite and maybe because of all these surprises, I found the whole film a lot of grown-up fun, a very entertaining one and half hours.
After the movie, I found out that the director was Tommy Wirkola, the same guy who directed the Norwegian Nazi zombies in the snow movie "Dead Snow." So that is why his strange Tarantino-esque sense of humor is all over this film. I am a fan! I will be awaiting his next project. However, for all the fun I had watching this film though, I think they should be happy with what they have now. I think a H&G sequel would already be pushing their luck.