Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters Review: A Boomstick Without Any Boom
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Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters Review: A Boomstick Without Any Boom

By Dustin Rowles | Film Reviews | January 25, 2013 | Comments ()


Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters comes from producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, which says a lot about what one should expect from the film, and it wants to be what we expect: A big, ball-shittingly dumb horror comedy with great kills, a smattering of snarky one-liners, and a keen ability to pulverize brain cells. But the talent difference between writer/director Tommy Wirkola and a director like Sam Raimi, who would've crafted the perfect version of this movie, is the difference between Hansel and Gretel working as a spirited bloodbath of shotguns and splattered witch brains and what is onscreen: A flat, lifeless action pic that fails on both the horror and the comedy counts.

The problems are many, least of which is the barely existent script, which follows Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) as they attempt to put down a coven of witches who have stolen the children of a small town with the intent to sacrifice them under a once-in-a-generation blood moon, making themselves invincible to fire. In their way are Hansel and Gretel, who have an arsenal of weapons and a mysterious background: Their parents disappeared when they were young, leaving them to fend for themselves in the forrest where they came upon a gingerbread house and nearly found themselves inside a witch's oven. With the exception of the town McCarthyite (Peter Stormare), who accuses anyone with a pulse of witchcraft, a helpful troll (Derek Mears), and a good witch with whom Hansel has a crush, there's very little in the screenplay to even elevate it to bare bones. It's like a femur and a mandible, Gemma Arterton's cleavage, and a lot of action sequences.

That wouldn't be to Hansel and Gretel's detriment if the action sequences were spirited instead of limp, if more attempts were made to inject one-liners appropriate to the film's tone, or if Jeremy Renner, in any way, could provide a capable comedic presence. Unfortunately, anyone who has seen Renner's stint as host of "Saturday Night Live" knows that Renner doesn't have it in him: He's tone deaf. He doesn't have the timing or the swagger to pull off the role of comedic bad-ass. He's like an accountant with a shotgun and a leather jacket, a guy who had his sense of humor surgically removed by dramatic directors. Meanwhile, Arterton doesn't fare much better, although at least she has low-cut outfits to distract us from the fact that she's completely out of her element. Even the ever-capable Famke Janssen, a natural fit as the Witch Queen, is muted by Wirkola's floundering, ineffectual direction.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters simply doesn't work. It not only fails as a competent film, it can't even get so-bad-it's-good right. I wouldn't describe it as a completely miserable experience because Arteron and Renner are decent gun-toting eye candy, but it never comes close to achieving the massive orgy of guns, grins, and witch-killing so many of us were hoping would be on display. The bullets fly in Hansel and Gretel, but they never zip.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Buck Forty

    Are Gretel's breasts as bodacious on screen as they appear in the movie poster, because your header pic indicates otherwise. I know it's trying to sell a 3D film, but the poster was ridiculous.

  • kirbyjay

    Have you silly women see Jeremy Renner's arms? Yes, I'm in love with a body part.

    I find him appealing and adorable and he is a damn good actor. If you saw The Town, Jimmy Coughlin is exactly what you would find in Charlestown, MA

  • Buck Forty

    Many commenters have made mention of Renner's lady bonerific arms, and also of Hemsworth's, on Pajiba. And yet no one has written a piece highlighting how sexist it is that Hawkeye and Thor are both forced to wear costumes that expose their arms for the enjoyment of women viewers (and gay men?). Some pedant might argue here are no vital organs in your arms, unlike an exposed midriff, but I'd imagine if your weapon of choice was a mighty hammer or a bow and arrow then you'd want to keep your arms well protected.

  • I will never understand Renner's so-called appeal.

  • Quatermain

    And yet I bet it's still more tolerable than that fuckin' Kevin Hart pop-up.

  • Wow. I think I feel the most sorry for Peter Stormare. At least he got to be in The Last Stand, so he can take solace in that.

  • Groundloop
  • himitsusj

    Wow, I disagree entirely with this review. I thought it was a fun little time-waster of a film with super-awesome guns. Let's be honest, here: if you go to see a movie labeled as an "action comedy" about murdering witches, you shouldn't expect profound plot or fantastic dialogue. Come for the pretty guns, stay for the fantastically over the top deaths.

  • Groundloop

    I haven't seen this (yet), but I think your argument is only half right. Yes, one shouldn't expect a profound plot when you sit down to watch an action comedy called Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, but it would be reasonable for one to expect fantastic (funny) dialogue, because that's where much of the comedy would come from, nut shots and pies in the face excepted. Army of Darkness wouldn't be half the movie it is without a charismatic lead with great comedic timing firing off pithy one liners.

  • Fredo

    The problem is in the trailer: the CGI.

    This movie screams "Dumb B-movie fare". So why not hire good SFX and make-up people, tell them "go nuts" and then have them as the opponents to H&G. Tough to look like a bad ass against green screen.

    Look at how having a demonic Embeth Davidz helped Bruce Campbell in Army of Darkness.

  • namegoeshere

    If you guys didn't know, Mrs. Taken is on the record stating that she did this film to pay for her mortgage. Renner has no excuse though.

  • TheOriginalMRod

    It really looks like they are counting on the Steam Punk folks to pull this movie through. Hopefully there aren't any Ren Faires this weekend...

  • Well hell. I was hoping for a really good bad movie. If it can't rise to that, I'll pass.

  • KatSings

    Damn, I was hoping this would be enjoyably batshit stupid. Sad face.

  • Irina

    I'm still gonna watch this and enjoy it and you can't stop me!
    *stomps foot*

  • e jerry powell

    You really think so?
    *evil grin*

  • cheryl

    When will it be time for Jeremy Renner to go away? Will it be soon? Pretty please?

  • poopnado

    I actually enjoyed him in Ghost Protocol, and I thought he had semi-decent comedic timing. But he was also playing a fairly straight-laced character. For whatever reason I still do enjoy seeing him on screen. I would maybe even go see a film just because he's in it. Buuuuuuut not this one.

  • Wōđanaz Óðinn

    If only the bomb had gone off sooner...

  • Puddin'

    I cant wait to have this on in the background while I'm cleaning the house!

  • e jerry powell

    Or just passing time in the bathroom.

  • MDH23

    you pass "time" in the bathroom? you must have some kind of magic colon...

  • e jerry powell

    It's a very Time Lords kind of thing.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Gemma. You so pretty. I like your hair. Please don't become Kate Beckinsale.

  • Luke Anthony Matthews

    Famke Jannsen is in this?! Holy hell, now I'm probably going to have to sit through this shit.

  • prince_of_montagu

    I have no desire to see this AT ALL, but i do love the Famke. Plus, girl can do an evil role (Xenia Onatopp, Ava Moore, Jean Grey/Phoenix) in her sleep.

  • e jerry powell

    Ava Moore was the shit, yo.

  • prince_of_montagu

    i know, right? Ava was my girl.....or boy.

  • Her head looks really tiny on top of that body.

  • e jerry powell

    I assume that happened in post.

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