Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters just released this month on Blu-Ray is an action-adventure film about the famous fairytale family, starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton. Set a few years after they ate that poor woman’s house then kicked her into an oven, Hansel & Gretel have become somewhat badass and have upgraded from breadcrumbs and kitchen based homicide to great big guns and beheading people into bins. The story, as you know it, unfolds just as you would expect it to, with a few added extras and a slightly darker sense of humour. For example Hansel now has diabetes from being made to eat so much sugar in the gingerbread house as a child.

The film begins with Hansel and Gretel being abandoned in a forest at a young age to avoid being spotted by a witch, then irony steps in and they get kidnapped by a different one immediately.  Years later they enter a village to save an innocent victim of a Salem style witch-hunt, Mina, who is moments away from being burned alive.  This is due to the whole town being in uproar after many of the villagers have carelessly lost their children in the middle of the night and Mina is being held responsible.  Hansel and Gretel have decided to put things right and to hunt down the actual witches involved and save the day!  This comes across as a perfectly acceptable movie for children or teens, which is why I was so surprised the first time people started exploding like eggs in a microwave, and naked breasts (both male and female) were offered up suddenly right in the middle of a scene.

There are three witches (which should make any Macbeth fans feel slightly at home) and they have been kidnapping children so as to make themselves invulnerable to any traditional methods of being murdered. They are primarily concerned with being burned to death whenever they do something naughty or when Yankee Candle is closed and the electric has gone out. After suddenly realising he has been kind of racist or possibly not racist enough, Hansel learns that it’s only the black magic witches that are the bad ones and the white magic witches are all lovely. They then team up with a troll, a white witch witch and a hunter groupie, despite his minor grope of an unconscious Gretel’s bosom, to have a slaughter fest on all the black witches before they can become immortal and give diabetes to everyone.

The film looked great, had some beautiful and interesting costumes and the special effects, particularly the blood levels, were just over-the-top enough to give them an edge.  It’s main weakness was a constant feeling of the director grasping for tone as it alternated between a film that was aimed exclusively to the traditional action fans and a sort of Simon Pegg style satire on teen fantasy films.  To try and understand I will ask you to imagine you have SkyPlus and that you have decided to record an episode of Spongebob Squarepants to watch with your child later that day.  Imagine now as you sit down to watch it with your youngster it turns out you have recorded ten minutes of free soft-core porn starring Spongebob himself completely by accident. The feeling you would get in the first few seconds is very similar to how I felt throughout this film.  

The thing that disappoints me most about the film is that it probably would have made an absolute killing in the latter part of the 20th Century as it reminded me of the original Wesley Snipes film Blade and the like, and easily would’ve been the film that teenagers were sneakily lending to each other hidden inside VHS boxes of David Attenborough documentaries so their mums didn’t find out. However it is perfectly watchable and I would suggest it to anyone for the sole reason that I’d like to know if they also constantly felt like the tone was changing so much as to imply a director with multiple personality disorder. It’s fun, it’s violent, it’s silly and it has Hawkeye from the Avengers in it, so you may as well give it a watch.

David Roberts, CeX Ann Street, Belfast

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters at CeX

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