Hansel & Gretel – Witch Hunters 3D
Children’s fairy tales always make for a good film narrative, especially when they are adapted with a new and darker twist, which is what we get with the latest film by writer/director Tommy Wirkola. Starring Jeremy Renner (The Bourne Legacy, The Avengers) and English rose Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace, Clash of the Titans) as siblings, Hansel and Gretel, this film is sure to alter the current perception of a much cherished childhood tale.
The story begins as always with a young brother and sister being abandoned in the woods by their father, at their mothers command. After spending the night alone, cold and scared, the children happen upon the candy-covered house of a witch … however, the original fairytale acts as exposition for the film. The film continues after the demise of said “candy witch”, with Hansel and Gretel grown up and earning their living as leather-clad, witch-killing bounty hunters. Quite a juxtaposition with the innocent original!
Hired by Mayor Engleman (Rainer Bock) (perhaps a nod to the German composer Engelburt Humperdinck, famous for his opera, Hänsel und Gretel), the two kick-ass vigilantes arrive at a village on the edge of a wood to help solve the mystery of the missing local children, which of course has something to do with witches.
Although with the help of CGI this film is more grim than Grimm, the added gore and ghastly, cheesy humour brings a serious element of fun. There is definitely something darkly comic about a hero taking an insulin injection for his diabetes contracted from having been force fed candy as a child by a witch. There are also very subtle references to other fairy tales within the film and tongue-in-cheek elements, which lighten some of the more emotional moments.
Overall this film does entertain, but the castings of Arterton and Renner is questionable. Perhaps more suitable to play the roles of these gun-toting, punch-throwing, head-butting heroes would be the fight-first-questions-later Jason Statham and Milla Jovovich. The delicate Arterton is just not quite convincing enough, and teamed with Renner there is a serious lack of authentic chemistry between the brother and sister – it all looks too staged.
As entertaining, escapist cinema this film rates highly and mature themes run throughout ensuring it is no ordinary kids’ fairy tale. Detailed dissection of the film would be its downfall because there is nothing particularly original on offer, but on the whole it goes down well.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is released nationwide on 27th February 2013.
Watch the trailer for Hansel & Gretel here: