In this continuation of the popular German folk fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, the titular children are all grown up and are ridding the world of witches one medieval town by another. They’re kind of like medieval pest control but with more weapons and no cute little van with a giant plastic cockroach on top.
This American-German fantasy action film which stars British actress Gemma Arterton (gosh so many countries!) and Avengers’ ‘Hawkeye‘, Jeremy Renner predicts what the adult life of the two famous fictional children might be like. With the very short runtime of just one hour and twenty eight minutes Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters moves swiftly and doesn’t faff around. With the assumption that the audience is already au fait with the story of Hansel and Gretel, the film provides us a very brief backstory before diving straight into the action. Yes, the film does feel slightly rushed but with a pretty stupid premise, one dimensional characters and questionable visual effects it’s probably a good thing that they chose not to drag it out. It’s unlikely that the film could sustain itself for more than the very minimal hour and a half.
The only thing that makes Hansel and Gretel less flimsy is the fact that they come with a story that’s been famous since the 1800’s.
The already short run time is made shorter by an exasperatingly long title sequence that looks like it belongs at the end of the film. One thing I hate in a film is a long title sequence, because nine times out of ten I’ve lost interest in what I’m about to watch by the time I’ve seen the entire cast list amid a bunch of pretentious graphics and corny music. Perhaps it was the only way director Tommy Wirkola could up the run time to avoid short film territory.
The performances are OK but nothing more, in fact the best performance is from Famke Janssen who does a brilliant job of being evil. She plays the creepy witch that is in charge of the ‘blood moon’ ceremony which entails capturing and killing children from the local village. The other characters are all one dimensional and boring, and the only thing that makes Hansel and Gretel less flimsy is the fact that they come with a ready made back story that’s been a famous and well known fairy tale since the 1800’s.
It’s an interesting idea to take two well known fairy tale characters and make their story current, kudos to Tommy Wirkola (who both wrote and directed the film) because the story does make for a good action film. However, although it’s brash, bright, Americanised, current, exciting, fast paced and bloody it’s lacking finesse and taste and perhaps would suit something less black-comedy and more historical action. It gives us something that’s medieval looking, but presents us with characters that act, talk and speak like 21st century Americans. Not bad for a bloody action fantasy, but it’s probably a film more suited to teenagers that are just getting into the fantasy/horror genre.