Thursday, November 28, 2013

Movie Review: Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters (2013)

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013) directed by Tommy Wirkola

Here's a turkey for Thanksgiving! Go watch a parade or a football game, not this movie!!

Updating fairy tales has been a popular past-time for decades. At first, Disney would give its spin to the classics, mostly by providing happier or more upbeat endings to the tales. Recently, some updates have been more like reversals, making the villains not just sympathetic but even the heroes of the stories. Others have moved the tales to different times and places, often contemporary times and places.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters start with a faithful if over-the-top retelling of their story of abandoning by their father, discovering the candy house, and killing the witch who was planning to eat them. The feat put them on a career path that takes up most of the movie, killing witches and other nefarious beings professionally. It also sets the tone for the movie. The witch is fairly gruesome and her death in the oven is a bit much. The scene ends with a swear-filled voice-over by Hansel about what they learned from the experience.

So there's a lot of swearing and gore and nasty creatures but it's not particularly scary, definitely not a horror film. It doesn't have enough laughs in it to make it a good comedy. Hansel and Gretel are a bit too brutal and a bit too grim to be fun action heroes. The dialogue sounds like contemporary urban characters but the setting is grungy small-town middle ages and the two never quite fit together. The same goes with their high-tech fighting gear and semi-martial arts combat moves--sure they look cool except they don't quite match the other elements. The film makers seem to have had a lot of different ideas of ways to go with the movie and then put them all in without any thought of how to blend them.

The movie is very uneven and unsatisfying.

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