Holiday carolers might be polishing their song lists right now, but we’re already thinking ahead to spring. When temperatures begin
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Hansel and Gretel were abandoned as kids in the forest by their father and were almost turned into a witch’s dinner. They escaped by shoving the witch into the oven meant for them, and now they hunt down and destroy other witches wherever they find them. In the small town of Augsburg, witches are stealing children and the mayor calls in the duo to take care of the problem. While they’re sure they can handle it, something larger is going on in the woods outside of the town than anyone suspects.
The movie starts out dark and brutally violent, with the witch trying to cook Hansel, and the tone lightens up, but not very much. For instance, Gretel saves Hansel from being cooked, not by just pushing the witch into the oven, which is dark to start, but by stabbing her in the gut and then shoving her in. Yes, I realize the witch was going to cook them and all, but it just seems a bit unnecessarily violent. The witches would be at home in the Evil Dead movie, they are properly evil-looking and menacing, but like Deadites they have no real strategy for attack other than brute force. They are far outmatched in their brutality by Hansel and Gretel, though Gretel is by far the more dangerous of the pair. She’s not only a remorseless killer of witches, but also pretty hard on humans that threaten her mission. There’s one scene where she bites the nose of the sheriff (Peter Stormare, who needs to stop playing lackeys and be a main villain.) and I swear she should’ve torn it off, though when she finally lets go, his nose is only bloody.
It’s hard to feel sympathy for or like Hansel and Gretel very much as characters, even knowing why they hunt witches. Maybe it’s because they barely ever show any emotion themselves, Hansel doesn’t even crack a smile when a romantic opportunity presents itself, though he does take her up on it. When Ben, a fanboy/aspiring witch hunter asks the pair for their autographs, Gretel is only amused by how much it annoys Hansel that she keeps talking to him. They’re just a bit too grim, too focused on only their mission. Usually that would work if only one of them was that way, but when both want nothing but to kill witches the audience doesn’t have a character to get close to or like. Of the pair I favored Gretel, because she was tougher and kicked more ass than her brother did, or maybe because the narrative rested more on her than it did Hansel, and he really ended up with no storyline other than the romance which didn’t really go all that far.
There are dark comedic touches all over this movie, the one I liked the best was the milk bottles having pictures of missing kids tied to them by string.
One thing I liked was the look of the witches. They didn’t go too far with Famke Janssen’s makeup, they want you to recognize her after all, but one of hench-witches had cool spikes for hair and the other looked fairly cool. The big scene near the end brings out awesome-looking witches from all over the world, and I really wish that the movie had slowed down so that we could get more than a glimpse of all the hard work put into making the witches look cool and scary for the few seconds we see each of them.
A movie like this rests on the strength of the villain, and while Famke Janssen did a good job as the main dark witch, she needed a few cooler hench-witches, or more depth added to the hench-witches that she did have. While there’s a connection between Hansel and Gretel and the Grand Witch, it’s a pretty cliché one, and I’d have liked to see something deeper and a bit more interesting than what they did.
This movie’s getting a lot of bad reviews, and while the movie has some issues, it’s watchable and a good time. It’s a fun action film, and while you might not have to leave your brain at home, it’s best not to overthink this movie. If you like action flicks with lots of fights and cool effects you won’t be disappointed.