Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters [2013]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (O)  Roger Moore (1 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C-)  Fr. Dennis (1 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB review
Roger Moore's review
AVClub's review

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (directed and cowritten by Tommy Wirkola along with Dante Harper) is IMHO one of several surprisingly poor films released this past weekend.

To be fair, I do think that some aspects of this film were certainly fun/creative.  For instance, the film plays with, indeed, glories in an aesthetic that resembles that of the recent Sherlock Holmes movies (with lots of grudgingly "plausible" if generally "over the top" anachronistic gadgets and time altered action scenes) the SH films themselves no doubt influenced by earlier sci-fi The Matrix movies.  Thus the Hansel and Gretel of Grimm's fairy tales, the children who were abandoned in the woods by their parents and who escaped from the clutches from an evil witch who wanted to cook/eat them, triumphantly emerge in this story from the forest as confident young-adults, Hansel (played by Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (played by Gemma Arterton), toting semi-automatic cross-bows and Gatling-gun style shot-guns (one can't really make a musket into a Gatling gun ...) setting themselves on a crusade to rid Europe of witches with news of their exploits spreading via "press clippings" made possible by, well, the then "recently invented" Gutenberg press.

I'm in awe with the amusing take on the story.  However, the film deteriorates into a needless Matrix style bloodbath as the two splatter their way through a CGI medieval Germany ridding it of some really grotesque looking and generally Evil, child-eating witches.  Further there is a truly (in our day) surprising nude scene in the film in which an inevitably good witch slowly strips in front of Hansel (and the viewers) and takes a slow leisurely dip in a magical mountain spring giving us all a truly _leisurely opportunity_ to take in the view of far more of her (up down, pretty much all around) than could possibly be justified by the plot's demands.  Don't get me wrong, the actress was drop-dead beautiful, but other than for the sake of "getting to see her naked" (and then from a fair number of angles ...) there's really no justification for the way that scene was filmed. 

So while the underlying concept is rather cool, the execution is needlessly violent/crude.  Tone down the violence and rewrite "magical mountain spring scene" and this could have been a 3 1/2 star PG-13 winner.  Instead, it's a 1 1/2 star R-rated groaner/disappointment.

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