Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters Review
Before going to Hansel and Gretel one must first acquiesce one’s self to two things, irreverent use of mythology and excessive violence. This movie, in function, was a modern remake of Van Helsing minus Dracula and with more splattered heads. While certainly entertaining if you are into those things I would not recommend this movie for anyone looking for a strong plot or those with small children.
Initially I felt as if the movie was giving a unique twist on German folklore with an excellently done witch’s candy-house scene. This effect was enhanced by a fun overview title scene that uses 17th century town postings to show that the dynamic duo of witch pwnage spent the next 15 – 20 years building a successful career of badassery. This immersion, however, was jarred out of place by the strange yin-yang addition of ‘good witches’ which clashed sharply with the earlier exposition that witches gain power from demons. The good witches were so out of place, despite their integral nature to the story, that it felt almost as if a little bit of Oz had been dropped into a German folk tale.
The fight scenes, despite over the top action and wanton gore, were extremely entertaining. In fact, I was surprised by the demonic speed and aggression with which the witches fought. The demon nature of the witches came through in rotting flesh and over animalistic sounds that emanated from the witches whenever they talked. The creators of this movie even went so far as to give the most powerful witches the ability to look beautiful, which worked well with their demonic nature. Unfortunately all of this comes back to clash with the Oz like hereditary nature of some witches in the story. It felt as if the writers were arguing, some saying that power can come from an evil or good source and others saying that power is neither good nor evil and what matters is how you use it.
All this aside, Hansel and Gretel clearly wasn’t intended to be a highly intellectual story, but rather a fun, action packed excuse to remake Van Helsing. Almost down to the characters, The hunter, huntress (twist being that she is his sister), good monster, evil super powered creatures of the night that eat people, and even down to the plucky comic relief sidekick the movie seemed to ask the viewer repeatedly if it was Van Helsing enough. They didn’t even change the machine gun crossbow. This isn’t a bad thing, in fact I found it very entertaining. It just wasn’t very unique.
There were plenty of over the top entertaining moments, complete with a modern style fan boy geek and splatter humor. Even the mundane things such as diabetes (for which insulin injections didn’t exist in this time period but I won’t tell if you don’t ) treatments are apparently available with immediate superpower like effects. Just be willing to suspend your last vestige of reality at the door and the whole thing will be a lot more entertaining.
This movie had a lot more potential than it lived up to. If the writers had picked a mythos and maintained that structure while creating the story they would have gotten another star. If they had been more original they might have even gotten another half star. As it stands Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters gets three stars for the entertaining action, crazy demonic witches, and bringing the plot to a close. (Something sorely lacking in a lot of movies of this kind.) If you like violence, super powered smack downs and matrix like fight scenes in 17th century clothing go see this movie. If you have a problem with splattered heads or half-baked plots you might want sit this one out.