Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)

I say, retribution for those witches who were burned! There goes the manhunt…

Hansel & Gretel - Witch Hunters

Paramount Pictures in association with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, MTV Films, Siebzehnte Babelsberg Film and Gary Sanchez Productions present…

From the book “Children’s and Household Tales” written by The Brothers Grimm comes “Hansel & Gretel”! It was published in 1812 and was included with stories like “Cinderella”, “Snow White”, “The Frog Prince” and “Rapunzel”! The folktale was based on two children who lived in an era that recognizes survival as the primary reason for their parents to leave them in the woods so that they won’t starve or even worse resort to cannibalism in which was the Authors basis from real events of “The Great Famine” in the years 1315 to 1321.

So after, “Red Riding Hood”, “Snow White & the Huntsman” and the recent “Jack the Giant Slayer” comes these siblings who had a really bad childhood! After considerably exhausted mining for properties to be developed on screen from the lucrative space epics, to the ever evolving treasure hunters, fan favorite deranged serial killers, the never can get a break video games, hit and miss novels and today’s hottest money makers the comic book superheroes!  Hollywood now has been finding another genre that can stimulate the masses curiosity and appetite to hand over their dough!

It was fascinating and maybe more interesting to invest on monster movies from Universal Pictures back in the day. Great actors who were primordially responsible to make these creatures born by folklore, legends, myths and even with facts has helped capture the imagination of the movie going public.

Hansel and Gretel was directed and written by Norwegian filmmaker Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow) not much credentials in his resume so for those who have not watched this film it may give him a little more benefit of the doubt than what he can actually do. His tempo is fast paced, knows a bit of action and placing his casts in the spotlight when needed. But his screenplay was in a definite quagmire, he could have done better since this was just an adapted screenplay and with the long history of the folklore. Twisting the premise into his own liking, the story would not have suffered that much in terms of mediocrity with petty one liners and self-absorbing characters that hogs their own scenes forcefully just to get enough screentime! In another aspect, placing elements from a fantasy oriented but contemporary setting with a steampunk backdrop was obligatory but useful nonetheless!

Along with Producers Will Ferell (The Other Guys) and Adam Mackay (The Land of the Lost) who operates Gary Sanchez Productions to finance their own brand of mischief (I mean work) and has a profitable films under their belts! But why did they made this type of project without the right intentions to make it directly oriented through action or with comedy and spoof it like “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” since they are into that type of business anyway? The film could have been much better if it was collaborated or was taken over by Guillermo Del Toro or by Tim Burton since they have the kind of mindset and imagination when it comes to these types of projects.

So, Famke Janssen (X-Men) is a Witch named Muriel and by that implication she leads a coven of spellbinders to unleash hell on Earth (well, the village is a start…). The acceptance of her role has probably by chance seeing that there are other new stars that can garner box-office results, although, she can still be considered a crowd pleaser but the rope can only extend so far…

While our leather clad heroes who had an epiphany to hunt down her kind since they were left to die purposely or with a given reason. The bewitching and feisty Gemma Arterton (Tamara Drewe) coming off from another monster mash vampire film “Byzantine”! She plays Gretel a no non-sense femme fatale who lets her brain do the work while the joker Jeremy Renner (28 Weeks Later) is her brother Hansel who is also not a stranger in these types of films coming from a zombie infested city as a sniper for the military! Both had extensive training since the Director wanted a no-holds barred in your face bloody action sequences and that was an understatement…

Now, Edward the Troll was a scene stealer, he may not be perfect in terms of using animatronics or puppetry but still made an impression as Derek Mears (Friday the 13th) handling the suit while Robin Atkin Downes (How to train your Dragon) takes care of the voice. Both are reputable performers and have been linked to films and tv series. The latter even had various stints with Warner Bros. and DC Comics in their direct to video animated films!

With bankable stars like Jeremy and Gemma can only do so much for the audience which is one of the reasons why they would flock the cinemas. Although with a limited budget, it was quite profitable even with the critics overwhelming lip service. Considering this was released with mockbusters that rely on box-office trends and piggybacking on their supposed intended profitability.  The aforementioned financing did little work on special effects and wire works which shows especially the embodiment of witches from how they move, the broom aerial maneuvers and how they sound like! At some point they were like jungle cats leaping and running on four legs while snarling like beasts at one point and at other times like aliens!

Well, it was another pop corn flick with whole sense of being dreadful in both dialogue and in its production standpoint which is clearly a high school play has better chance of competing while on the good part, this was way better than Stephen Sommers’ “Van Helsing” and Stephen Norrington’s “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” (talk about minds that think alike). In closing, the talent here was commendable enough to do their work but it does not change my mind in saying: everyone “get your pitchforks and torches we’re going hunting!”

 

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