Sometimes you just wish the witch had won. After surviving the candy house and the evil witch within, Hansel and Gretel have grown up to be two attractive witch hunters who like to swear, kill witches and repeatedly get the shit beaten out of them. Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton star in the wannabe franchise starter Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, a movie that suffers from painfully clunky dialogue and, amazingly, too much action.
I actually like the concept that lay at the core of this movie. It's an ingenious little spin on a fairy tale classic, and frankly, if done right, could have brewed up a couple of sequels.
If the first one was any good, that is.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is not unbearable to watch by any means. It has its fun moments and it is fast-paced. Gemma Arterton looks good even though I'm still not convinced she can act (or choose a project that visually represents the word "quality"), and Renner holds his own even though this movie represents by far the worst performance of his career. There is a ton of action, and occasionally the action works. Or at least the gory conclusion of most action scenes work.
English is not writer/director Tommy Wirkola's first language, however, and it shows. The dialogue is simple, clichéd and downright embarrassing at times, especially in the beginning when the characters actually have to do things other than punch nasty witches. Beyond the dialogue - and Wirkola's English skills cannot be blamed for this - the script and story are shockingly unimaginative given the clever concept.
I expected Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters to take fuller advantage of its roots and display a more creative, fun and enjoyable world with strange creatures, cunning witches and other goodies. Instead, the plot primarily involves Hansel and Gretel finding nasty witches, engaging in long and overblown fight sequences where they establish that not only are they terrible at killing witches in an effective way but that their bodies can take one hell of a beating, and then repeating that cycle over and over again.
The advanced gadgetry the two witch hunters possess becomes increasingly absurd as time goes on. I can buy into the futuristic weapons to a point, but after a while they become distracting. Not so much as the unnecessary f-bombs and other swear words inserted throughout for no particular reason, however. I have no problem with swearing, but every bad word is glaringly out of place.
As stupid action films go, you could do worse than Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. But you could do a hell of a lot better. The movie takes itself way too seriously, and after the tenth battle where Hansel and Gretel barely survive because they suck at their job, it becomes way too tiring. Oh, candy house witch, had you only done your evil deed when you had the chance.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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