The idea behind a Hansel & Gretel movie was an interesting one. Paramount Pictures Executives seemed to believed that an R-Rated version of what happened to Hansel & Gretel after they escaped the house of candy in the 1812 original Brothers Grimm was a safe bet. So the studio ponied up $50 million for a production budget and was able to twist the arm of Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner and actress Gemma Atherton to play the two title characters that devote their lives to witch hunting after their escape in the newly released Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.
The film’s synopsis is as follows: Hansel and Gretel become orphans after their childhood witch ordeal and have become famous witch hunters. After a small village has eleven children go missing, Hansel and Gretel are contracted to rescue them. Easy-Ka-Cheesy. Oh wait a sec. Forgot about the Blood Moon which is about to occur in three days wherein a powerful witch will use the occasion to sacrifice the children in a spell that would protect the witches from fire going forward. Guess not-so-Easy-Ka-Cheesy.
Ironic that the source material comes from a brother team by the name of Grimm as ‘grim’ would be the best word to describe this effort. Mixing R-rated gore with a G-rated subject base doesn’t work to director Tommy Wirkola’s (Dead Snow) benefit. To say then that the effort is uneven is an understatement.
Some of the gore is good, but it is all CGI (including the blood). A witch flying through a wire spider web during a high speed chase in the forest is the film’s best shot. But the fighting scenes and most of the dialogue undermine any of the gore efforts and we are left with not only a film that doesn’t work, but one that might end up on a few Worst of 2013 lists when the year is reviewed.
Usually reliable Jeremy Renner doesn’t look remotely interested as brother Hansel and Atherton’s Gretel is about as memorable as my afternoon on January 11, 1977. There are characters that are inserted for what you might think would be a younger crowd (like the Troll), but then we get a few F-bombs to remind us that this film is supposed to be for adult entertainment only.
Originally slated for a 2012 release, the studio held back Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters until 2013 where they found a week-end release slot that had fairly weak competition. The release on January 25th resulted in a weak $55 million gross by the time it faded from theatres a few weeks later. Luckily (for the studio, not so much for Renner), the movie made $169 million internationally which triggered a sequel clause in the actors’ contracts. So that means a sequel is being prepped as I type.
If you hated Hugh Jackman’s Van Helsing that you will loathe Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. It is a big spectacle bomb that does little to entertain audiences and has a pulse rate equal to Elvis Presley circa 2013.