Starring: Gemma Arterton, Jeremy Renner, Famke Janssen
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Running Time: 88 mins
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is an American film about two bounty hunters with a skill for tracking and killing witches who are summoned to a small town on the eve of a haunted night to protect the citizens from a new level of evil that will push them to the edge.
Taking a classic fairytale and turning it into a big action movie is a premise I absolutely love, with the epic Pride And Prejudice And Zombies the best example of the genre. Unfortunately, however, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters doesn’t quite live up to its potential, often getting too bogged down in its own story, and taking itself just a little too seriously for its own good, meaning it’s far less entertaining than I was hoping for at the beginning.
However, let’s start on the bright side, with the fact that the film does at times manage to get the balance between pure parody-comedy and action-horror just right. It’s not a laugh-a-minute film, but there’s clearly some good comedic talent behind the screenplay, as the movie features some fantastically funny reversals of expectations of the fairytale genre.
Ranging from parodies on the preposterous special effects that some films use to bring fantasy worlds to life to a full-on satire of just how dark real fairytale stories are from a certain angle, the film has some real comedic bright spots, and it means that, although it’s not exceptional, there is some good fun to be had throughout here.
Also, the two lead performances from Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner are pretty good. While the film doesn’t always seem to get its own brief on being a less-than-serious gritty update of a classic fairytale, its two leads do seem to put in a good effort to keep things a little lighter, allowing for more fun.
Jeremy Renner plays his typical bruiser in a good self-aware manner, while Gemma Arterton makes the kick-ass Gretel just as likable and fluttery as any generic fairytale female lead, often bringing you into a false sense of security in some scenes, thinking that the outcome will be like every Disney movie, only for the film to turn everything on its head again.
Despite all that, I still can’t really say that this is a hugely entertaining film. It’s got some great moments, and its two leads do very well to keep things as light as possible, however the fact remains that this film’s biggest downfall is that it just takes itself too seriously.
While the likes of Pride And Prejudice And Zombies always seem fully self-aware, and are fully willing to spend most of the running time with stupid parody comedy, Hansel & Gretel just goes a little too far with its own story, and with that dark, gritty vibe surrounding it, it all feels like it’s actually trying to be a proper action-horror film, something that just never impressed or grabbed me.
When some of the action kicks off, it’s great fun to watch, but it’s those periods in between where the characters are discussing how to bring down the witches, accompanied by all sorts of magical mumbo-jumbo that’s just not that interesting, that make the film a lot less entertaining, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.5 overall.