Hansel And Gretel : Witch Hunters (2012)

From the outset, I kind of knew it wasn’t going to be winning any awards any time soon, but the idea of a remake of the Brothers’ Grimm’s Hansel and Gretel starring some personal favourites Jeremy Renner (Avengers, The Bourne Legacy) and Gemma Arterton (Clash of the Titans, Prince of Persia) had me chomping at the bit. I’ve been a firm fan of folklore and fairytales for as long as I can remember, and I’m always fascinated with how Hollywood (for better or worse) revamp classic fairy tales. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t the best film I’ve ever seen, but it was bloody good fun all the same.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters begins much the same as the classic Grimm story, with the young siblings finding their way to the house of candy in the middle of a dark forest where they’re captured by an evil witch, who plans on fattening them up and eating them. They manage to outsmart the witch (in a very gruesome way) and escape. This is where the similarities end. Hansel and Gretel become the titled witch hunters, travelling the land slaughtering witches and protecting the towns they are ravaging. It’s not going to be winning any screenwriting awards, but it never intended to. It’s a fun and lighthearted film, but don’t misunderstand; it is most certainly NOT for children. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is well aware that it’s the ballsy cousin to fairy tale counterpart Snow White and the Hunstman, but it revels in it’s R-rating, and for this reason, it shines.

In terms of the characters, both Renner and Arterton make their characters their own. Yes they’re these two badass witch slayers, but they’re very much human, and very breakable. Hansel gets pounded by massively powered up witches and battered by trees, and Renner makes it not only cringe worthy, but hilarious. Gretel is by no means a pushover either. The unique thing about her character, and Gemma Arterton‘s great portrayal, is that she’s considered an equal among men. She is a real, empowered woman, who frankly doesn’t take any shit from anyone; witch, man, or otherwise. It was so refreshing to see a fairy tale heroine actually back her words up, and kick some ass. Yes I’m looking at you Snow White and the Hunstman.

The witches themselves are a great take on the classic foe. They ride around on broomsticks, have wands, warts and a truly wicked way about them. But they are also incredibly powerful physical beings; often resorting to physical brawling, most of which poor Renner bears the brunt of. Lead witch Muriel is played by the brilliant Famke Janssen, and you can really see she revels in being the bad guy.

A personal favourite character of mine though is the troll, Edward. It’s a stroke of genius giving him such a human name, as he really is that. The animatronics are superb, and I found myself genuinely feeling for the poor big guy, under the whip of the witches.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters can best be described as a fun romp. Don’t take it too seriously, just sit back and enjoy the great action scenes, killer one liners, and great visuals. It’s no classic and regrettably it is somewhat let down by a weak, and predictable storyline, but I personally think it’s a greatly understated film for what it is. It’s fun for the sake of it, and the cast play their parts great.

It’s a film that doesn’t give a shit, but in the best way possible.

Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

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