Review: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

The River reviews an unrecognisable version of Hansel and Gretel.

Alessandro Iacovangelo

The film begins with the well-known fairytale of Hansel and Gretel entering a little cottage made of candy where an evil witch attempts to eat them and they retaliate by pushing her in the oven.

This is where the similarity to the fairytale ends and we see what happens to the children 15 years later. This new spin on the fairytale is definitely not one to read as a bedtime story anymore.

The siblings become bounty hunters

Hansel and Gretel (played by the well-known Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton) become the stereotypical bounty hunters in tight leather clothes who track and kill witches armed with crossbows and guns – acting in a slightly cheesy ‘badass’ way.

Norwegian writer/director Tommy Wirkola portrays an interesting version of Hansel and Gretel. The hunting siblings have a natural immunity towards magic, making them perfect witch-killers. Unfortunately the film does not go any further than this.

Comedy peppered with swearing

Their immunity to magic is the only highlight and twist in this version of Hansel and Gretel. However, there are a few good attempts at comedy peppered with swearing that may cause a chuckle or two.

The story itself is not deep, in fact it feels far too predictable. However the special effects and gory fighting scenes keep you glued to your seat.

Impressive fight scenes

Despite the action scenes, it fails to find balance with other important elements such as the plot, the relationships between characters or surpirsing twists. There are several “ohh, ahh” scenes but the film relies far too much on impressive fighting.

The two bounty hunters are disinterested in everyone (except a girl with a crush on Hansel and a troll). They only seem to think and talk about witch-hunting. It is a straightforward plot with no real character development or moral dilemmas to relate to them.

The witches as characters had interesting transformations and their animalistic movements made them the most intriguing characters. Everyone else in the town are, as Gretel phrased it: “Hill-Billies” with no impact on the overall plot.

The fighting scenes are enjoyable but if you want memorable characters you may want to skip this one. However, if you enjoy over-the-top action or Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton take your fancy then you may enjoy this film.

Lack of originality

Hansel and Gretel are part of a growing trend in which fairytales or historical figures are being remade or changed into a ‘what happened if…’ film. This lack of originality is fairly disappointing, but if you are a fairytale remake fan then you can’t go wrong with such an action packed film. Hansel and Gretel is fun, but not nostalgic. It has very little to do with the actual fairytale.

Hansel and Gretel is out February 27.

Rating: 5/10

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