Here is a fairy tale for grown ups. Only it maintains a wilful level of pure silliness that only those willing to think like a kid could appreciate. Soooo, let the kid’s watch?
Hardly, the tale might be full of candy houses inhabited by witches, but the film is full of blood, guts and f-bombs.
This is far more Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter than the instantly forgettable Red Riding Hood, and it’s all the better for it.
In fact I can’t wait until the Vampire Hunting Prez and the grown up fable kids assemble…
The titular hag-slayers are but wee bairns when we meet them. Dragged from their cute wooden beds as they sleep and taken deep into the forest and left. It’s but minutes before they run into a huge house fabricated entirely from delicious candy. Forget termites, they must have a hell of an ant problem.
Like the mouse looking for ‘easy cheese’ and finding mousetrap, the kids come face to pimply nose with an honest to goodness witch (of the Army of Darkness variety).
Their encounter is the stuff of legend – and accounts for about 5 minutes of this film…
No it’s what follows that we focus on today. These kids aren’t going out early like MacCauley Culkin. They want a few more than 15 minutes.
Now grown and cute as a Vogue cover, Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) built on what they forcibly learned as children. They are now a pair of witchsperts, mercenaries hired to eradicate the cackling menaces from any town ready to pay.
And with the fabled ‘Blood Moon’ approaching and kid’s missing as fast as when you call “It’s bathtime” this formerly sleepy town is scraping up the coinage.
Now contrary to popular belief, you’re average witch is quite nimble and spry. And aggressive as all hell. In fact the trio of witches on display here (fronted by Famke Janssen) only fear fire. The only other thing that works is full dismemberment, but that seems onerous and perilous in itself.
Standard enough fare, but this is less the tale than the telling. Hansel and Gretel are all kinds of Gen Y confident, they swagger about with nary a care in the world, treating intense small town Sheriff (Peter Stormare) with special disdain despite his misgivings about their presence. Renner in particular plays his role as if he was the hardened vet in a buddy cop film.
The violence is over the top and ridiculous. In a good way. Heads go splat, the weapons seem a bit modern for your average fairy tale, and more than a few characters explode. As in explode.
But you still wouldn’t care if it wasn’t fun. Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters won’t win awards, won’t be studied in university courses, in reality won’t even be watched by those already burned by the innumerable crappy fable adaptations of the last decade – however it’s mostly fun. And the fun-o-meter is inextricably linked with the level of lunacy. When the troll (yes there’s a troll) lays waste to a hunting party, it’s fun. When the finale involves the annihilation of the world’s most S&M looking fairy tale bunch; it’s more fun. When they pause to talk about history and meet fans and well wishers – not so much.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, might just be an even sillier premise, but it lost itself in its self-seriousness. This film is silly and inane and never scales any great heights. Frankly, no-one in Hansel and Gretel seems to even be trying especially hard. I don’t care if a hundred years go by and they never make a sequel to it… but if they did, I’d watch it.
I can’t recommend that you do the same. But if you pick it up off the shelf and give it a glance, just don’t dismiss it derisively without a second thought.
Final Rating – 6.5 / 10. The moral of this fable is easy to pick; If you cant get it right. And you cant get it good. At least try to make it fun.