In this new episode of Throwback Thursday, I am gonna go for a review of Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. It is a huge trend to make fairytales into live action movies, but the person that has read the real stories by the Grimm brothers, knows that fairytales are not always about pink dresses and happy princesses. None of that! The Cinderella sisters chopped their toes off to fit the glass slipper. So what’s up with Hansel and Gretel? That is what director Tommy Wirkola explains in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. Just to be sure: it was not his intention to make a movie about teenagers that are lured into a house to solely smoke weed, cause then you are mistaking this movie for Hansel & Gretel Get Baked! 😉
Nope, this is a whole different story. Wirkola was already toying with the idea of what would have become of little Hansel and Gretel, when he was still in film school. He pictured them as witch hunters and he pitched the idea at school. The teacher said: “Never ever tell anyones about this. Save it for the time that you are standing in front of a big Hollywood producer and pitch it then.” So he did, and the director (that also made the very successful Død snø) got the chance to finally make his vision on Hansel and Gretel come true.
Famke Janssen (Dutchie!) is in the movie too, and she is very pleased to see the cast being so international. The director is Norwegian, and if you have ever seen a Norwegian flick, you know that Norwegians have very black humor. Plus, trolls are one of the big export products in Norway (hence the brilliant Troll Hunter), so there is a troll in this movie too. Wirkola is a bit of a Hitchcock/Tarentino-kinda guy by the way, cause he always makes sure to feature in his own films. In this one, he plays the right hand of the bad guy.
Enough background story, let’s focus on if the movie is good? I was kinda taken aback by the bad reviews, meaning I have watched this film on Blu-ray instead of checking this gruesome fairytale out in the cinema. As soon as I started watching the Blu-ray disc on my PS3 with my 3D-glasses, I immediately was impressed by the 3D effect. Even the pre credits are amazing, when the film hadn’t even started yet. Even before I knew anything about the story, I was sitting on the couch like: WOW! This is impressive, this is what 3D at home is supposed to look like.
That proved to not be totally right though, cause when brother and sister go after witches in the wild action sequences, it is difficult to keep your sight under control. It is very heavy on the eyes to have to focus them all the time, while registering what it is exactly that you are watching, so that is a bit of a let-down, even though the rest of it looks amazing. Especially the moments in which people explode are intesting to watch: the arms and legs swing right at your face.
Enough about the graphics, what’s up with the story? Hansel & Gretel is about the famous brother and sister from the fairytale, that killed a witch that was keeping them in her little candy house. Then we fast-forward to twenty years later, where we see the duo offering their services for hunting down witches. They arrive in this little town, where they save a lady that is accused of being a witch. Then it occurs the mayor actually hired them to save eleven kids that were kidnapped by the devilish women.
Apart from the witches, the sheriff is not really happy with Hansel and Gretel visiting his domain either. It is not directly clear what his deal is, but later in the movie he explains that Hansel and Gretel are the ones that actually attract witches into the neighbourhood, so that might be it. A small warning: Hansel & Gretel is not a movie in which you have to pay close attention to the reasons behind people’s behaviour. This is merely an entertaining blockbuster that you should not think too much of (or about!).
That sheriff is played by Peter Stormare (Fargo) and that is a letdown. Stormare is typecasted so many times, that his role in Hansel & Gretel simply is not original or different from how we know the guy. A pity, cause you would not expect to see the other actors in this movie. Hansel is played by Jeremy Renner (The Avengers) and Gretel is Gemma Arterton (Prince of Persia: Sands of Time). My favorite star in this movie is obviously Famke Janssen, and not just because she is Dutch too.
What I love about Famke in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, is that in nine out of ten shots she is not that gorgeous. The X-Men actress plays witch Muriel and she has (for the first time in her carreer) spent many hours in make-up to get her witch look done. She was not very happy with all that crap on her face, but she did like to act extra ugly, hiding behind that mask.
That is shortly what the movie is about: Hansel & Gretel try very hard to track Muriel down before her witchy friends show up for sabbat (where are the kids are sacrificed) and then there is a little story through it about the sheriff that tries to annoy our dynamic duo. And as I mentioned before, there is a troll in the game, that works for the witches. The fun part is that when watching this movie. you will think it is fully CGI, but then in the extra’s it is explained how there is actually a guy in a huge suit playing him as well.
And then there is the relationship between brother and sister, that does not go deep enough. The two never talk about what happened to their parents, and there is not much happening between the two, which makes the chances of them being related feel very slim, as they are more fighting buddies that chase after mysterious creatures with heavy artillery. That sucks.
Another sucky thing about this movie, is that everything is sooo predictable! You just put a whole damn lot of cliche quotes and there it is: your standard movie that does not surprise nor tell any new stories. I did like the super huge guns and Hansel and Gretels interesting ways of fighting. They are super swift!
Even though this whole flick is super predictable, it is super fun to watch when you have the ability to not take things too seriously. The special effects are amazing and if you have 3D glassess, the effects are really worth your while. There is a lot happening in the movie, which makes me hapy. I think the low grade Hansel & Gretel currently has on RottenTomatoes, is a bit crazy: only 15 per cent! Especially if you have a huge tv, an excellent system to listen to, then this movie is pretty much worth your time, especially thanks to Famke and her super scary nose.