Film Review : Hansel and Gretel : Witch Hunters
● By Justin Buettner
Expanding on the classic children’s fairytale, Hansel and Gretel : Witch Hunters follows the brother and sister into adulthood. The pair help a small village fend off a pack of sinister witches that are preparing for a pagan ritual for the blood moon by kidnapping children. Hansel and Gretel unexpectedly find out that their past puts the pair in the cross hairs of the evil witch’s plans as well.
Hansel and Gretel : Witch Hunters attempts to play to the same audiences that have made Underworld and Resident Evil successful franchises. The movie is packed with violent action sequences that tie together a fairly predictable plot. Fans of gory action will find value in that. I can’t help thinking the film would have been more successful if it omitted the connection to the fairytale. The characters were far too serious to be named Hansel and Gretel, and it felt that the tone and story battled becoming a parody instead of embracing it. The end results is an odd mix where the movie was unintentionally funny because it takes itself far more serious than its audience will.
Director Tommy Wirkola does not seem self aware of the silliness of having Hansel and Gretel as take no prisoners monster hunters and neither do the actors. This creates a lot of odd and certainly unintentional comedy throughout. In addition all the relationships that are cultivated in this strange movie are slightly gross and uncomfortable. Hansel and Gretel seem a bit too close for brother and sister, particularly in a few scenes where the duo get a little too touchy feely with each other. The film then introduces love interests for both characters and all these relationships feel just as unnatural as the brother and sister relationship. Gretel gets a bit too attached to a giant troll and flirts with a boy that comes across as just a tad too young. Hansel finds himself with a witch girlfriend whom he seems less than attached to while far too focused on his sister.
The character’s reaction are equally odd, especially to death. People dying horrible deaths are nothing more than an inconvenience or worthy of a joke. When a main character is mortally wounded Hansel comforts them with a mini pep speech ending with, “you did good.” Gretel seems far more concerned with the health of a troll then any of the people she encounters (or children for that matter).
Almost every decision in the movie looks like it was made by the filmmakers trying to ascertain what a teenage boy would think is “cool” regardless of how these decisions fit with the rest of the film. So while everyone is dressed like 1600 century villagers, Hansel and Gretel dress like extras from the Matrix movies. While the town does not have electricity and use candle lighting, Hansel and Gretel have an advanced arsenal of guns (and lot’s of them at that). Sometimes they speak like peasants and other times they speak with modern day slang. Very little attention to detail was used in the making of the film to create a coherent universe. This includes the design and purpose of the witches. Little to no thought was given as to why a witch was bad. They were just evil for evil’s sake.
As a mind numbing popcorn action film there are scenes in Hansel and Gretel : Witch Hunters that work. They shoot things, creatures die, objects explode, characters beat up stuff, so if you are into that sort of action film you will find some enjoyment in this film. However outside of the mindless action there is very little in the way of character development, humor or plot that will excite many. The writers try to weave elements of the fairytale into this film’s plot with very little success. The movie would have been better off having a witch hunter film without the Hansel and Gretel connection. If they needed to include the fairytale angle, they should have done so with a greater amount of comedy and taking itself a lot less serious. In its current form Hansel and Gretel : Witch Hunter is a forgettable, odd violent action film.
Films like Hansel and Gretel : Witch Hunter : Snow White and the Huntsmen, Resident Evil, and Underworld
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.