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“Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” Review: Almost Impressively Lazy

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“Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” Review: Almost Impressively Lazy

Wesley Emblidge

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 The phases hollywood blockbusters go through are everything from superhero movies, to dark gritty action movies, and then of course to dark gritty superhero movies. One of the more recent (and most annoying) of these has been big-budget action revamps of old fairy tales, mostly because studios don’t have to pay for the rights. Last year we saw two separate “Snow White” movies, as well as two TV shows based on various fairy tales. Later this year we’ll see “Jack The Giant Slayer,” but before that we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel with “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters,” an artificial and uninvolved attempt at an action-horror-comedy. Films like this are the reason people consider January a dumping ground for movies.

Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) were abandoned in the forest as children and found themselves at a poorly designed CG puke-covered house made of candy. You know the whole story, the kids eat the candy, go inside tempted by the witch, where she lures them into the oven and eats them. Hansel and Gretel flip it on her and throw her on the oven, and from there they go become adults and go around the forest hunting witches. They’re recruited by a mayor of a small village that is being terrorized by a group of witches who have a big plan to blah blah blah. The movie couldn’t care less what it’s about, so neither should you, and by the end nothing that happened before actually matters either way. It’s just a loathsome hodgepodge of action beats and uninspired kills, that tries to be fun and exciting but never even topped the trailers that ran before the film.

Where it especially fails are the little things. The intentions behind the script alone are questionable, for starters the film was produced by Adam McKay (director of “Anchorman” and such films) and Will Ferrell, suggesting this was originally supposed to be much more of a comedy or even a parody movie. Additionally, either the original script was set in modern day and then all the settings were just altered, or the screenwriters can’t imagine a world without technology. This film tries to justify the inclusion of shotguns, record players, grenades, syringes (and presumably the medicine in them), alarm clock watches…they even go as far as to put “missing children” notices on, not milk cartons, but bottles. I’m not saying this movie is supposed to be period accurate or anything, it’s obviously a fantasy movie, but one can at least make an attempt at creativity, rather than just saying “Oh yeah, we can have a gattling gun, just make it looks like it’s made of stone or something.”

In general, everything in the film just looks terrible. The set designs range from boring to stupid, and the makeup is downright repulsive, and not in a good way. All the witches look like they were dipped in yogurt and waited for it to dry before heading out on their tree branches (not brooms, for some reason). There’s a troll character in the movie named Edward that looks essentially like Sylvester Stallone if you over-inflated him using a bike pump, and then shaved his head (see a comparison below).

Honestly, the best that can be said about “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” is that it could have been worse. It’s a merciful 88 minutes long, although it feels like much longer, and at least casts some relatively likeable people in the leads. At its worst, “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” is a detestable mess of boring effects and plot elements we’ve seen a million times over. At its best, it reaches the end.


1/5 Stars

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“Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” Review: Almost Impressively Lazy