Of course, like me, you remember the story of Hansel and Gretel. Two kids lost in the forest find a house made of candy, go inside and eventually kill the witch that hoped to eat them. The End. Or so you thought. Apparently there’s a little bit more to the story.
Gorily rendered in pretty impressive 3-D, “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” gives the old fairy tale a pretty bold spin. Seems the tykes weren’t lost…they were abandoned in the woods by their dad, hoping to hide a family secret. Of course, after they got a taste of the excitement and celebrity that comes with shoving a witch in the over and burning her to death, the two grow up to become, to be blunt, bounty hunters. Their journeys take them to a small town where several children have turned up missing. Even the crudely drawn likenesses attached to milk bottles haven’t produced a clue. When H and G show up they come across a mob, led by the local sheriff (Stormare in, after last week’s “The Last Stand,” his second consecutive over the top performance) intent on burning a young woman (Pihla Viitala) accused of being a witch. Before someone can determine if she weighs the same as a duck (or is made of wood) Hansel steps in and declares her too beautiful to be a witch and she is set free. Later that night a group of non-professional witch hunters are attacked by Muriel (Famke Jensen), a kind of super-witch with some deep and dark plans for the missing children. But Hansel and Gretel have other plans. Let the carnage begin!
Full of exploding heads and set in that weird movie land where the people still ride horses, light their homes with candles and possess automatic weapons, “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” is best summed up in one word: Fun. At least that’s the way I took it. Both Renner and Arterton give tongue in cheek performances, which are always the best in films like this. Take these parts too seriously and you get hooted off the screen. Take them too casually and people want their money back. Here the laughs are earned, the effects are strong and both actors can be assured of working again.
Visually the film is well put together. The 3-D is utilized to its fullest potential and the special effects are well rendered. The script has some witty moments as well as a few holes. Due to having to eat so much candy as a child Hansel has apparently become the world’s first diabetic. He informs us that he needs to give himself a shot every couple of hours or he will die. Then he proceeds to go a couple days without it. Maybe he’s Type 2? On a positive side, I can see this movie spawning a great drinking game once it comes out on DVD – everyone takes a drink when they hear the word witch! See, I told you it was fun!