Monday, 21 January 2013

Movie Review - Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

I thought she was holding a gun, haha
There has been a steady trickle of fairy tales being re imagined and it's not limited to animated features. Having one such story be interpreted for an adult audience in mind isn't new but the attempt is appreciated.

Hansel and Gretel, after their fateful encounter with an unsavory cannibal, grow up to be witch hunters. They tackle a particularly difficult case that has ties to their origins.

The original tale of the two lost children in the woods finding a candy cottage is dealt with right in the beginning. After that, it's a bloody trek through the rural area as the pair deal with multiple kidnappings perpetuated by, what else, witches. As the film is beyond the folktale, it tries to add new twists and elements. Only a few aspects have iconic qualities like the appearance of the grand witch and possibly the inclusion of the troll. It doesn't have to be of mythic proportions but they could have tried harder. I would note that I had pegged the revelation on the orphans' origins to go one way but it followed a different direction instead.

The film is noticeably rather gory. 3D makes good use of the splatter effects. It's a shame because the witches involved had rather interesting designs and looks. Their wands and broom types were varied as well. More 'sexy' witches would have been welcome but it's not meant to be. Their CGI was not overly obvious. I'm assuming most of the witches' visages were make up and prosthetics. The troll had a classic 'guy in a rubber suit' charm as he wasn't all made up of motion capture effects. The skirmishes weren't elegant and artful displays of practiced kung-fu type moves. The battles with the witches were quite brutal with bleeding noses and being dragged on the ground. The rough and tumble and more 'real' manner of their encounters was slightly refreshing, if messy. The use of artillery only increased the gore factor with buckets of CGI blood. The exposure at the pool scene was 100% all natural though. At least, I'm pretty sure, haha.

Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner do have the chops to play action heroes but their portrayal as Hansel and Gretel could have been more memorable. Granted, they didn't have a lot of character to develop and the pair had a stoic and cold nature to reenforce but it wasn't pushed hard enough. Gretel maintained her facade better than Hansel, as Jeremy Renner hardly tried to change his usual demeanor. Gemma Arterton at least displayed cracks in her ice queen behavior that laid bare some of her vulnerabilities. Famke Janssen is serviceable as the main antagonist, though the use of her sexuality is not exploited.

The Witch Hunters is firmly set in the action film category but with the emphasis on gory. The elements of horror are there but the focus is really more on the blood and guts violence instead of scares. The plot isn't too deep but isn't too shallow either and the pool scene does fill the need for exposure. All in all, Hansel and Gretel is a thrilling diversion and a sequel could only get better.

SPOILERS
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I really thought they would go for the 'Famke Janssen is our mother' route. It didn't and the new angle was pretty ok.

I suppose the kidnapping of the kids was just an 'invitation'?

Honestly, the troll massacre scene was the absolute worst. There was no magic or weapons. Just juicy blunt force trauma to traumatize those watching.

I would rather that the White Witch survive but if there was a sequel, they need Hansel to be single.

I pity the poor witches of the world. They could have stood out more with their cool designs and distinct features but they were just cannon fodder.

Ed the Troll was being taken advantage of.


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