Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013) – A Review


A review of the 2013 action fantasy Hansel and Gretal: Witch Hunters starring Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton and Famke Janssen

Hansel Gretal Witch Hunters

Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton are the grown up Grimm fable characters Hansel and Gretel. After having escaped and killing a witch from their famous adolescent encounter, they devote their lives to traveling from village to village to rid every witch they get wind of.

Now famous hunters for hire they’re called to a village where children are going missing. The duo learn Muriel (Famke Janssen) a dark powerful witch and her devoted coven are responsible. She has a plan to sacrifice twelve innocent kids during the Blood Moon and happens to know some secrets about the pairs past. Now H&G have to stab, shoot and dismember every witch they can to save the kids!

What garbage this is.

I’m not sure how it started, but there’s been this trend in Hollywood of updating classic fairy tales for new audiences. Most of the time it seems updating means making it much more ‘actiony’, badass, brasher, grittier, more exciting and almost always ultimately making it a forgettable interpretation.

Hansel Gretal Witch Hunters Gemma ArtertonThis is director Tommy Wirkola’s (Dead Snow) modernized take on the characters, so naturally being ‘witch hunters’, they come equipped with creative witch-killing weapons.

The weapons existence is hard to swallow in this time period, but we’ll let that slide since this is a fantasy after all. It’s very much like Van Helsing in that regard. You just have to accept the idea. You’re not meant to take this that seriously. Let’s remember this isn’t meant to be historically accurate. I mean, the characters are hunting witches!

It would have been much better if these witch-killing tools came in handy resulting in some fun action. However, the action scenes are of the choppy variety and extremely unremarkable. The story is predictable and I never got involved in it. None of it is scary, exciting or funny. Supporting characters come and go not really offering anything other than to draw things out further.

Renner and Arterton have nothing to work with as these characters and they’re simply walking action cliches. Renner especially could have been doing something much better with his time. Not surprisingly we get the required slo-mo shot of the pair walking away from things burning. That’s the extent of the creativity here. It’s almost like a sub-par pilot for a TV show that wisely got rejected.

The high points – I did like the images of the missing children on old milk bottles. That’s kind of amusing, but it only lasts for about as much time as it took for me to describe it.

Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters Famke JanssenAlthough there was criticism about the overt use of gore and violence, I didn’t mind that and some of it is well done. It’s mainly CGI-type of splatters, but at least the movie didn’t shy away from it and embraced its violence. Oh and Janssen looks good when she’s not CGI-morphing into her witch makeup. That’s about it.

It’s just a stupid, shallow flick that doesn’t offer up as much as fun as it thinks it is. It’s a mess of CGI nonsense, which I’m stupidly surprised did some decent business. I don’t know when I will ever learn to stop being surprised at what general audiences will pay to go see.

Less demanding viewers might find this an effective time killer, but really you could be doing something much better with your time.


4 thoughts on “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013) – A Review

  1. I saw this dreg on a visit to a friends house. His girlfriend loves the crap of updated fairy tales (she's probably the only person I know who like Snow White and The Huntsman) In a nutshell, the film is awful, so much so that its insignificant, this film truly has become a minor footnote in the fairy tale redux genre. I can't believe Renner and Arterton are the two leads in this film, they're both respectable enough actors and I really find it disenchanting to see them in such dreg. Was the paycheque that sweet? The only positive of this film is Arterton and Jansen, they are both smoking hot in their black leather costumes.

  2. On the other hand- I thought "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter" was a lot of fun.

    (And I agree- let's get on with the Superhero Reviews already. I expect your take on Superman IV to be at least half an hour long and put "Howard the Duck" and "Supergirl" to shame.)

    1. Superman IV and the next chapter in the Bond series, I really would like to see your take on Quantum of Solace.

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