‘Witch Hunters’ A Mediocre Reimagining
Published: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Updated: Sunday, January 27, 2013 19:01
Hansel and Gretel are all grown up in this recent adaptation from MGM and Paramount Pictures. Jeremy Renner (The Bourne Legacy, The Avengers) and Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace) are clad in leather and armed with fancy weapons as they hunt down and kill witches in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.
For those of you unfamiliar with the original Hansel and Gretel tale by the Brothers Grimm, it goes a little something like this: Hansel and Gretel come from a poor family, so poor that the father takes the children into the forest and leaves them there so they can get eaten by wild animals , and he will then have two fewer mouths to feed. After wandering in the woods, Hansel and Gretel come across a house made entirely from candy, and being the hungry children they were, they start to eat the house. They are captured by an evil witch who wants to eat them, but Gretel eventually traps the witch in her own stove and thus saves the day. And so, the pair returned home to their father with riches taken from the witch’s home, and they lived in happiness until the end of their days.
Or did they?
Writer and director Tommy Wirkola stayed true to the origins of the tale while still mixing things up in an interesting way. Hansel and Gretel did escape an evil witch from a house made of candy, but they did not return to their home. Instead, they grew up to be witch hunters.
Since their triumphs are known through all the lands, they are hired by a small town mayor to hunt and kill a witch tribe that has been plaguing his town and taking its children.
There have been so many portrayals of witches, it’s hard to keep track, but it seems that in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters it was hard to pick just one. Out of the three witches that plague the small nameless town, one is what is referred to as a “grand witch,” meaning she can alter her appearance to look human, but her real form is that of a nasty witch with white dry skin with black streaks and a crooked nose to top it off. But not all witches look like this, some look more demonic with horns and zombie-like features. And then again, “white witches,” or good witches, have only one human form.
Although the premise of the tale is something that is already far from reality, some new additions were almost just as difficult to digest. For one thing, Hansel and Gretel are these famous “witch hunters” that go around blasting witch brains all over the place with their high tech machine guns and metal crossbows—they even carry with them a homemade taser gun (which doubles as a defibrillator). But how can these types of weapons exist when the town still churns its own butter and the peasants dress in burlap?
Hansel & Gretel is rated R for “horror, violence/gore, brief sexuality/nudity, and language,” which means it is mostly tailored to your 17+ adult crowd, yet it is difficult to see this film being made with an adult viewer in mind.
Yes, it is true that some older folk get nostalgic about their younger days when the extent of their responsibility was playing with dolls and Legos and nap time, and even though as college kids we still take naps, we have many more responsibilities and sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of the olden days. Instead of a peaceful escape to a land of fairies and magic, Hansel and Gretel suit up and show you the right way to kill a witch: burning usually does the trick.
The most interesting part of the film was the initial idea and premise of having Hansel and Gretel grow up to be witch hunters. However, the actual execution proved to be far less interesting. What was really lacking was a strong cast—Renner and Arterton were great, but they were not enough to carry the entire film successfully.
If you’re a fan of all things fairy tales, then Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters will give you a fresh perspective, but if you’re looking to be blown away by a great story, I would recommend sitting this one out and going to see Jack the Giant Slayer in March instead.