Jeremy Renner as Hansel
Gemma Arterton as Gretel
Famke Jackson as Muriel
Thomas Mann as Ben Walser
Derek Mears as Edward
Pihla Viitala as Mina
Peter Stormare as Sheriff Berringer
It’s no secret that fantasy fiction is a lot more popular in the 21st century than it was in the 20th (Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, World of Warcraft, the young adult fantasy stories that have helped Amazon revive books). At some point, somebody realized that they could expand the ascending film genre of fantasy films by going back to basics: fairy tales. Only these weren’t going to be just for kids this time. They were going to take the concepts and darken them up.
Personally, I thought the whole concept was stupid. “Fairy tales for a wide demographic? And dark? It’ll never work.” And that’s why I’m not in Hollywood. While Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is by no means up to the classics I mentioned, there’s still a good time to be had.
This movie takes place after the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel concludes with the two siblings pushing their witch captor into her own stove, frying her. This moment in these children’s lives motivates them to become witch hunters. Fast-forward to a town that is getting regular witch attacks. After preventing a witch burning (and pissing off a power-mad sheriff in the process), Hansel and Gretel offer their services to find and destroy the witches that are troubling this town.
Acting is above average. The always-competent Famke Jackson does a good job as the evil witch Muriel. She plays a great villainous, something I know she can do but haven’t seen from her since Goldeneye in 1995. Derek Mears is similarly good as Edward, a good but misguided troll. The rest of the cast is decidedly mediocre. Passionate, but kind of lacking in timing.
Action is really good. Fast-paced with great gore. The broomstick flight of Muriel and other witches is really well-done and adds to the action.
The plot isn’t the best in the world, but what helps a lot is the dark humor. There’s a lot of witty dialogue that helps this movie along. So while the performances could use improvement, the film itself moves well.
This may be an unconventional and sort of crazy way to retell Hansel and Gretel, but it works. Much more enjoyable than I expected, frankly.
Overall: 7 out of 10