h a n s e l & g r e t e l : w i t c h h u n t e r s
27th February 2013
Gemma, Jeremy and Famke
20th February 2013
If you read our speculation on H&GWH, you may have noted a hint of scepticism about the film. I was less than convinced that this wouldn't turn out to be another watered-down piece of Van Helsing (I am using that as an adjective now). Happy to report then that this is not the case.
H&GWH picks up the tale (after a brief prelude showing the kids' traumatic childhood) with the protagonists in adult life, bounty hunting witches around the country. To be honest, that's all the plot you really need to pay any attention to. There's something in there about their parents and something that may be considered a twist if you're paying any attention to it but that's all pretty much window dressing.
What we get is a series of witch hunts that give Arterton and Renner plenty of space to show off their sexy fighting skills, fabulous gadgets and occasionally spectacularly anachronistic language. Arterton sports a strangely out of place mid-Atlantic accent and the film has very little regard for fixing anything in a specific time or space. Witches are routinely burned at the mere sniff of something awry and H&G do their very best to support the argument for outsourcing arguably government jobs (pest control) to private contractors - the local sheriff spending far more time worrying about his reputation than the actual facts of any witch activity.
The film succeeds for three reasons. Number 1 - if you've bought a ticket for a film with the words Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters in the title, you have a certain expectation of the seriousness of the movie. Number 2 - the film never for a second takes itself seriously, it's actually genuinely funny in places (and I'm pretty sure it was supposed to be). Number 3 - the action is fast paced enough and gory enough to put this above the usual run of the mill PG-13 fare that the studios routinely throw out for the teen audience.
It's not without issues. The 3D veers between pointless - many parts can be watched without the 3D glasses - to quite funny, viscera regularly flies at you from the screen, but, on the whole would generally be a welcome omission. A side plot (for want of a better word) involving some potential inter-species shenanigans between Gretel and a troll is entirely unnecessary and Hansel's love interest seems like an after thought to rule out any accusations of incest. But on the whole, if you're looking for an at times laugh out loud funny romp, this will fill (just barely) an hour and a half of your life quite nicely.
UPDATE: Having read reviews elsewhere since writing this, I'm prepared to admit I may have been more drunk than I thought I was watching this. However, I will defend this film as being MUCH better than A Good Day to Die Hard.