Now let’s not beat around the bush here. When you go and see a movie titled Hansel & Gretel: Witchhunters, you clearly aren’t expecting a film that is going to have a clean sweep come awards season. What you are expecting though is a great, bad movie. A movie with such a ridiculous concept (and title for that matter) that you are expecting to spend an hour and a half laughing at a bunch of characters in a ridiculous circumstance, perhaps some kick ass action sequences and of course the odd one liner of two (see The Expendables 2 for another great example of this!)
When I heard about Hansel & Gretel, I was excited for a couple of reasons. For starters, it is directed by a bat shit crazy Norwegian gentleman by the name of Tommy Wirkola who gave us the 2009 cult hit Dead Snow, a film with an equally ridiculous concept in that it was a zombie film where the zombies were Nazi’s… yep that’s right, Nazi’s. Anyway reason number two was that it featured Gemma Arterton, Jeremy Renner and Famke Janssen, three actors who I very much adore. And last but definitely not least, it was produced by none other than Saturday Night Live Alumni and the team behind such films as Anchorman and Step Brothers, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. I did say bat-shit crazy right?
In short, the film is about our heroes, siblings Hansel & Gretel, who have had a rather traumatic experience as children having been kidnapped by a witch in her candy house only to make a narrow mistake by pushing her into an oven (so keeping very close to the fairytale we all know and love). Flash forward 20 years and the pair are now bonafide witch-hunters, traveling from town to town to rid the world of witches with their sweet fighting skills and ridiculously advanced weaponry. When they finally arrive at a town close by to where they were brought up as kids, they encounter a Grand Witch in the form of Famke Janssen who apparently shouldn’t be messed with. Cue action sequences, convenient plot devices and ridiculous one liners.
I’m not going to lie to you – the film is anything but a work of art, but one thing it most definitely is is fun and does exactly what I expected it to do. The action sequences are tightly choreographed and exciting, the one liners are corny and there are some rather strange moments which I’m sure were included at the request of McKay and Ferrell (a rather awkward scene where a Troll covers two fingers in what appears to be vaseline to tend to one of Gretel’s wounds but looks like he may be prepping for something a touch more sinister).
I do really like Wirkola as I really think he has a great mind for the absurd and ridiculous and that seems to be where he is most comfortable. Dead Snow had some particular stand out scenes (a death in an outdoor toilet just to name one) much the same way that Hansel and Gretel does. What it says to me is that he is a director that isn’t afraid to be silly and have fun with his audience and I think he is very conscious of the fact that the film is completely ridiculous which is what makes it so fun. It certainly isn’t for the squeamish (lot’s of exploding heads and what not) but all in all if you are a movie goer who likes a film where they can switch their brain off and have some harmless fun then this is the movie for you.
Oh and if you can avoid it, don’t go and see it in 3D – utterly pointless.