Swift shot: The Brothers Grimm version . . . this a’int! Gatling guns, grenades, all manner of technological marvels of malevolence are introduced into this goretastic version of the classic tale of the brother and sister who bested and baked a witch in her own oven. There is ill-placed profanity, some mild nudity and countless graphic, special effects for the action lovers out there. If you turn off your internal critic and opt to be simply entertained, you will enjoy it more. Sadly though, I couldn’t kill the critic in me.
I never really pegged down what this movie was shooting for, and to be sure it wasn’t from lack of shooting. There were countless lead-filled scenes, and I likened this whole film to Legion, where machine guns were being used on Angels. Unlike Legion, though, Hansel and Gretel just didn’t do anything for me anywhere else. Sure, it had Famke Janssen and Gemma Arterton, and yes, Jeremy Renner. But I never felt like I was laughing with any of the characters, I was always laughing at the actors, and that isn’t good.
The story does offer a nice little twist on the classic tale, with a nice way of tying up all the loose ends that are initially presented in this version. Director Tommy Wirkola really impressed me with his Zombie-Nazi fun flick, Dead Snow, but this one never had near the excellent dialog, humor or incredibly noteworthy death scenes and NO, as in zero, horror. There weren’t even any decent jump-scares or anything that I will lose sleep over tonight. I read that Wirkola was terrified of the Hansel and Gretel story, and this film was supposed to be a release from that. But, it’s almost like he made a mockery of something that scared him, to overcome that fear. Because, he clearly has fun with this film . . . but it seems like a personal joke.
He ratchets up the steampunk in this “what happened next” story after Hansel and Gretel got their fame for serving up a nasty witch. I will give Wirkola credit for tackling his demons on screen, but this one is hardly one I would recommend to all but die-hard Renner and Janssen fans. I did catch this one in IMAX 3D, and there were some decent action-intense shots which played out well in that format.
If you love your action flicks with lots of guts and little dialog, this one is probably for you. If you like your action flicks to have a little more personality, I would say you will be pretty disappointed. I still think Dead Snow is Wirkola’s best work. But, kudos to him for making a mockery of something that used to terrify him. Wish I could say Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters fired on all cylinders for me, but it just wasn’t there.