REVIEW: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
BY NOUR HABIB World Scene Writer
Friday, January 25, 2013
1/25/13 at 4:02 PM
That was a recurring thought — and the main one, really — that ran through my mind as I watched “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters,” a movie that left me feeling as though the filmmakers’ driving question at the beginning of this project was, “How can we best disgust people?”
It was as if Norwegian director and writer Tommy Wirkola — along with Dante Harper, making his screenwriting debut as co-writer — sat down and thought: “Oh, you know what would be nasty? If the witches kill a man by pulling his limbs apart, causing blood to spurt every which way. And how about having someone vomit blood and worms all over everyone in the pub? And maybe we introduce a troll into the plot just so he can crush people’s faces with his fists and enormous feet?”
All that and more took place in this spin-off of the fairy tale, in which Hansel and Gretel grow up to become bounty hunters who kill witches.
The fantasy feel of the movie makes these scenes more disgusting than disturbing, more of a stroll through a young teenaged boy’s imagination than a march into a dark and satanic world of witchcraft. That imagination also includes mummy-like witches, amputee witches and conjoined witches, all of whom have dry, cracked faces.
As for the story, there wasn’t much of one. Our first glimpse at something that looks like a plot comes when Gretel (Gemma Arterton) has a dream about the night her parents abandoned her and Hansel (Jeremy Renner). But that moment is just enough to re-capture the attention of those in the audience who may have zoned out, only to launch into another half hour or so of goriness before hastily wrapping up what I’m assuming filmmakers thought was an unexpected “twist.”
The filmmakers also seem confused about their movie setting, in terms of the time period. The costumes and scenery suggest a much older era than the language. They also can’t make up their minds about how their witches fight, sometimes having them brandish knives and other times remembering that they can do magic.
The only audience I can think of who might enjoy this movie would be 12- or 13-year-old boys, whose parents may be wary of letting them watch it because of the numerous instances of a haphazardly inserted curse words.
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Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen
Theaters: (IMAX & 3-D) Cinemark Tulsa, AMC Southroads 20 (3-D) Cinemark Tulsa, AMC Southroads Cinemark Broken Arrow, RiverWalk, Owasso, Sand Springs, Starworld 20; (2-D) Moviestar Cinema, Eton Square
Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes
Rated: R (strong fantasy horror violence and gore, brief sexuality/nudity and language)
Left to right: Gemma Arterton plays Gretel and Jeremy Renner plays Hansel in HANSEL & GRETEL WITCH HUNTERS, from Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures. Courtesy