Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton star as the eponymous brother and sister duo in this frankly abysmal take on the Brothers Grimm fairytale written and directed by Tommy Wirkola.
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters opens with two youngsters abandoned in an eerie dark forest in the dead of night by their woodcutter father. They find the iconic gingerbread house, as expected, and send an evil witch from the coven into her oven. They then go on to fame and fortune as professional hunters of the wicked sisterhood.
There is really nothing good to say about the film. The overwhelming message seems to be that nice girls are pretty, obedient, put out easily and bad girls are objects to being set alight. The plot is not worth dwelling on for too long, mostly because it’s a garbled mess further hindered by the editing.
One of the film’s biggest flaws (there’s quite a lot of them) is that it doesn’t seem to really know who it’s aimed at. The medieval setting is teamed with Victorian, steampunk-type weaponry and technology. Combined with the heaving bosoms on display you would think the movie was aimed at teenage boys – it’s definitely not made for grown-ups. But then Hansel and Gretel is so very violent and packed with F bombs (unnecessarily so) that it feels jarring and out of context.
The most annoying thing about Wirkola’s American debut is that it really didn’t have to be so very bad. This could have been a camp, tongue-in-cheek witch slaying extravaganza but it’s none of these things. All the laughs are for the wrong reasons (just don’t ask about Edward the Troll) with the action sequences confusing to watch and delivered in lacklustre, retrofitted 3-D. Famke Janssen phones in her performance as Muriel the High Witch, quite possibly hiding her visible embarrassment under the heavy prosthetics, and Renner the most uncharismatic leading man we’ve on the big screen in a very long time.
Avoid this film at all costs.
Helen has awarded Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters a solitary Torch of Truth