Joining the ever growing amount of action horror movies to be released in recent years Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a high budget high octane movie which seemed to be met with a lot of criticism and negativity when it came out in 3D in cinemas across the land this year.
With this negative nay saying annoyingly in the back of my mind I was extremely happy to discover the film is an action packed joy ride using Grimm’s fairy tale as a basis for some bewitching wicked witch hunting and glorious gore.
Opening with a retelling of the original fairy tale where a young Hansel & Gretel are taken into the woods by their parents and come across a house made of sweets occupied by an evil witch who traps them, we see the inspiration for their future profession as witch hunters as they cleverly escape and cunningly kill the hag holding them.
Years later and now all grown up brother and sister (played by Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton) travel the land offering their very specific assassination services to villagers in need and peril from any and all black magic.
Hired to rid a small town of a trio of witches who are kidnapping the local children Hansel & Gretel discover that the head of the coven, the malicious grand witch Muriel (Famke Janssen) is planning something much bigger than they have ever faced and this plan will not only reveal secrets from the siblings past but may destroy their future.
Much like Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, the two recent Snow White movies, the sadly disappointing Van Helsing and Terry Gilliam’s unexpectedly excellent The Brothers Grimm all of which it shares similarities with, Hansel & Gretel is a literary and historical bastardisation with weapons, outfits and accents entirely out of context to the original story or time period.
This is of course is completely expectable however as the film is meant to be fictional fun from start to finish with writer and director Tommy Wirkola, the man behind Nazi zombie comedy Dead Snow, making sure it is almost impossible to take anything in the film seriously.
This is vital as although the story isn’t bad and the actors are all on fine form and having fun the concept is preposterous and the plot as stretched as some of Gemma Arterton’s costumes. Luckily the movie is packed full of frenetic martial arts fights, exploding heads, bullets, blood and magic spells all well filmed and well realized with solid special effects with no let up in the action making sure the audience is always thoroughly engaged.
One question that does keep rearing its wart filled face is who Hansel & Gretel is actually aimed at. Although at first appearing as a Tween action adventure comedy caper the graphic gore, incongruous swearing and scenes where the witches force innocent villagers to either kill themselves or their loved ones makes it seemingly for adults only a fact further enforced by the Unrated Edition which is available on Blu-ray promising even more intense witch bashing than ever before.
Ultimately it seems Hansel & Gretel’s audience is action horror fans who fancy some throwaway fantasy fun blending spells, guns, blood, fairy tale’s and kung fu and lets be honest who doesn’t love all those things!