Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

hansel and gretelReleased: 2013
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton

Average action film which lets down its great premise


It’s the week after the Oscars, the point in the year when the next awards season is as far away from everyone’s minds as it is possible to be. Therefore it is the perfect time for the studios to dump the films they want people to forget about as soon as they can. Given that Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters was filmed in early 2011 and initially planned for a March 2012 release, it’s hardly a ringing endorsement that it’s only now reaching our multiplex screens. In fact, it looks very much like Paramount were looking for a good week to bury a bad film.

Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton play the grown-up Hansel and Gretel who survived being captured by a gingerbread cottage dwelling witch in their childhood. Seemingly abandoned by their parents the orphans grow up into kick-ass witch hunters travelling medieval Europe killing witches who are terrorising towns and villages. They are called upon by the Mayor of Augburg to rescue a group of children who have been kidnapped by evil head witch Famke Janssen. As they face their toughest battles yet the siblings find out more about their own troubled past.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is the very epitome of an average film. It isn’t bad as such but you couldn’t really call it good either. It has a couple of good lines and raises a couple of smiles but doesn’t satisfy as much as it should. The concept is great and it is creditable that writer/director Tommy Wirkola isn’t afraid to include a good amount of gore and didn’t tone down the bloody elements to ensure a 12A certification.

Renner and Arterton make decent leads and have great chemistry but I couldn’t help feeling that Renner was somewhat detached from the action. Presumably he was looking ahead to Bourne, Mission Impossible and Avengers and realising that his career was about to explode and Hansel and Gretel wasn’t going to be a highlight. Gemma Arterton on the other hand throws herself into the fray with real gusto and virtually carries the film. She’s feisty and a great action heroine. Both also look great in the leather outfits which is got to be worth a point or two in the ratings. Yes I’m shallow but it’s a fun action romp we’re talking about here not Citizen Kane.

But a fun action romp has to be fun, action and rompy and Hansel and Gretel isn’t good enough to really engage the audience. The script is a bit ropey, the action scenes aren’t great and it all feels like a wasted opportunity to do something really original with a well known story. The 3D, as expected, was a waste of time. As always the first time a specific effect occurs for the first time it causes a jump and a giggle, by the fifteenth time it’s just irritating. On a side-note though I now have clip-ons for my glasses instead of having to fit cinema 3D glasses over my own and that improves the experience immensely.

The end of the film would imply that that the producers hope that this could be the start of a new franchise. Given how average this film is and what other franchises Jeremy Renner is involved with then I really don’t see a future for the witch hunting brother and sister.

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  1. It was destined to be bad. I think you’re quite kind to it Louise. I won’t be rushing out to see it again but it has its moments.

    • Oh, I certainly won’t be rushing out to see it again. Maybe I’ll get the DVD when it comes down to about £3 though…

      Stunned to hear there’s a sequel planned. Will fall over if Jeremy Renner’s involved.

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