Reviewed by Movie Moxie’s Alicia Glass
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Review Rating: 8
Hansel and Gretel of the famed edible witch house fairy tale, are re-imagined as grown up witch bounty hunters in this adorable action romp!
We all know the story. Hansel and his sister Gretel, left for dead in the deep scary woods, come across a house made of gingerbread and candy but inhabited by a witch who wants to eat them, whom they trick into cooking herself alive instead. Boy, those Anderson guys pulled few punches in their stories; remember kids, they’re only fairy tales when you’re little. Anyway, in this version Hansel (Jeremy Renner) is a grown and highly athletic man, who aside from a mild case of diabetes, is very reminiscent of his Hawkeye character from the Avengers movie, running about and shooting bows and other weapons in a sexy costume as he does. Gretel (Gemma Arterton) gets her own weapons and can jolly well take care of herself, whether it’s a witch screaming with rage-claws at her face, or a male townsfolk who really should know better than to try and grab himself a handful of witch huntress. The whole thing brings to mind a joyous reminder of that hot beloved mess known as Van Helsing with Hugh Jackman: great quips and one-liners, weapons that have no business being in this purported time period (seriously? a medieval taser, that’s awesome), combat moves that put wire-fu to shame, and a sense of light-hearted adventurous fun throughout the constant slaying of bad guys, or in this case, gals.
So, Hansel and Gretel hunt witches. The movie does try to give some mythology to the whole witch culture without giving huge offense, and for a lot of it they actually succeed. White witch versus dark witch is a great example. The now-famous bounty witch hunters have been called in to the town of Augsburg, where children are being kidnapped by, you guessed it, witches for some dire purpose. Digging with the help of star-struck fan Ben (Thomas Mann), they discover that head witch Muriel (Famke Janssen) has plans to gather together a large coven of witches for a ritual sacrifice upon the Blood Moon to make them all that much more powerful!
And of course, Muriel herself may hold some answers to the questions of H&G’s pasts, like why witches spells have no effect on them. I wonder. The witches meeting towards the end features witches from more cultures than you can shake a broomstick at, everything from Celtic to Egyptian and back again, which is also awesome. That’s another thing, the CGI for the witches contorting faces, the broomstick acrobatics, and did I mention the bad-ass wands? All completely over the top in a wonderfully self-laughable kind of way, Hansel & Gretel breathes cackling life back into a starved supernatural genre!
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