I was leaving the screening for a movie a few weeks ago and an old guy in the parking lot recognized me. I was with a childhood friend that was excited somebody recognized me from TV. The old dude was super cool, yet he soon went into a tirade for me not liking The Hobbit. His son, who looked to be in his 40s, kept saying “Dad, we gotta go now. You’re probably bothering him.”
I said, “No, I love discussing and debating movies.”
His son finally yelled at his dad, “You know how these critics are, they don’t like anything!”
That’s the perception critics have, but you know what? When there’s a goofy movie I like, the other critics give me just as hard a time. I still hear from a few that can’t believe I loved Step Brothers, or that last year I gave a good review to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Hey…I thought it was fun for what it was.
When I heard the title Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters – it didn’t sound promising. Yet with Gemma Arterton (Bond girl from Quantum of Solace) and Jeremy Renner, I thought there was hope.
I saw in the credits it was produced by Step Brother Will Ferrel and his producing partner Adam McKay. What confused me was…I couldn’t tell if the movie was a parody or not. That’s a problem.
Many of the anachronisms make me think it was a parody. And a few of them worked (a bit where Renner is taking insulin shots from being forced to eat candy as a kid, and a scene with milk that the entire theatre will enjoy).
The film was written by Tommy Wirkola, who did a film that combined horror and comedy (it was about Nazi zombies).
The opening gives us the background, and combines the original fairy tale story. We jump to years later, when Hansel and Gretel are bounty hunters that track down witches.
Another former Bond girl shows up in Famke Janssen, as one of the head witches. There’s a blood moon on the way, and the witches need the blood of 12 children and a white witch, to protect them from fire. This means we’re going to get lots of fight scenes in the woods, and surprisingly, some of them were choreographed well.
The hunters have lots of interesting weapons, like a stun gun and a rapid-fire cross bow (which I’m sure Ted Nugent is drooling over the prospect of).
The 3D digital IMAX is going to cost you a few dollars extra, and a lot of it is just gimmicky. Some of it is dazzling, too. It makes this a hard movie to review, because basically…it’s not very good. Yet if you’re going to a movie titled Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, you’re probably not going to be disappointed.
As great as Arterton and Renner are on screen, I think the film would’ve played better if they had the casual wink at the audience once in awhile. Instead, they play it straight, which totally kills the vibe of the picture for me.
At least certain gimmicks they didn’t do too often. We see an arrow or bullet in slow motion while a head ducks out of the way. That’s fine once, but not a bunch of times like we’re watching the Matrix again. It was also smart to keep the film relatively short.
The movie should’ve just decided to go as a full-out parody, but perhaps it didn’t test well and they decided it would make more money being an action adventure. There was obviously a set-up for sequels. I’m guessing those won’t be made, certainly not with Renner on board.
It could’ve used a bit more suspense and a few more jokes. It’s passable entertainment, though.
I’m giving it 1 ½ stars out of 5.