Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is absurd … but entertaining

Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner as "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters"

‘Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters’ may be the stupidest idea ever for a movie … but it actually works!

Remember when Jeremy Renner was the next big “serious” actor after his overnight success in The Hurt Locker?

Pop quiz. Who knows what the number one movie in Russia was for the weekend of January 18? No, not Django Unchained. That was number two. The number one movie in Russia was … Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters! How the heck did that happen? That’s almost as surprising as finding out that Will Ferrell and Adam McKay were producers on the film. I guess it’s also kind of surprising that Jeremy Renner is in the movie. I mean, I remember when Renner was the next big “serious” actor after his overnight success in The Hurt Locker which he followed up with The Town. A look at his resumé, though, shows an interesting pre-Hurt Locker career: guest shots on Angel, Time of Your Life, and CSI:, the starring role in Dahmer, and an uncredited appearance in a Pink music video! Then Marvel came calling, followed by Universal (to replace Matt Damon in the Bourne movies), and now this … a movie that has actually been sitting on the shelf for about a year.

Now before you assume that means the movie is garbage, it must be noted that the film was another of those MGM productions that were trapped in the studio’s bankruptcy limbo with Skyfall, Red Dawn and The Cabin in the Woods. Of course, it could be argued that the fact that the movie opened in Russia (!) before it did in the US, and had a press screening the night before opening day (and in some places hosting midnight showings, it was only four hours before opening), and the fact that the film runs a surprisingly short 88 minutes, that certainly should peg this one as a pure stinker.

And you would be wrong. I won’t ever admit that Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is a great movie, but I will say it was more entertaining than anyone ever expected it to be. I think what sold the movie for me was that it really did not take itself seriously. When the first post-titles shot is glass milk bottles with pieces of paper tied to them with missing children announcements, you kind of let your guard down and realize that this is all meant to be pure entertainment. The story, of course, builds off of the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale — shown in flashback — and the adult Hansel and Gretel now travel across the land to destroy all of the evil witches (and yes, apparently the Wiccan community is very upset about the portrayal of witches in the film). The duo are hired to rid a town of its own evil, but they start to discover a pattern to the disappearance of children and how they relate to the upcoming “blood moon.” As the pieces fall together, one more secret is revealed to Hansel and Gretel … and it’s a big one.

Just accept that they have machine guns and double crossbows and grenades.

One thing I really liked about the movie was that it had no intention of answering any questions in regards to the absurdities contained within the story. In fact, there is a character in the film, a Hansel and Gretel groupie (he even has a scrapbook full of press clippings!), who asks them all the questions the audience already has in the backs of their heads … and Hansel quickly brushes them off because there really is no explanation, so just accept that they have machine guns and double crossbows and grenades and fancy bullets that break apart into a kind of silver buckshot and let them get on with taking down the witches.

And kill witches they do, in gloriously gory fashion. Yes, there are a lot of exploding heads in this movie, in addition to a draw-and-quartering (human) and a troll stomping (also human) that makes a big splash (pun intended). And wait till you see the climactic witch convention! There really are no two witches alike — except for the conjoined twins — and the makeup and SPFX crew really outdid themselves. The movie definitely lives up to its R rating (there is some brief nudity as well, and a some adult language that seems out of place in this indeterminate time period … but so are machine guns!).

Even the stupidest movies can turn out to be wildly entertaining and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters turned out to be just that.

Someone commented on our free passes giveaway post that this was the stupidest idea for a movie ever, and they’re probably right. But, even the stupidest movies can turn out to be wildly entertaining and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters turned out to be just that. I have to also give a tip of my hat to the director, Tommy Wirkola, for really understanding how to use 3D. He never missed an opportunity to have something flying off the screen or pointing an inch away from your nose. That is my kind of 3D (and for a conversion, it looked pretty spectacular). If you’re looking to have some fun at the movies, then I would say this one delivers more than it should have. Of course, your entertainment mileage may vary.

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Photo Credit: Paramount / MGM

4 Comments on “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is absurd … but entertaining

  1. Aw, you used to name drop the people whose comments you used. But I’ll take it. (-: I’m glad you enjoyed yourself. I still don’t intend to see it, though. Looks like most critics agree, given the Metascore of 18…

    • Sorry. It was late, I had a full night of work still ahead of me, and I was rushing to get that posted by midnight. But, you know how critics can be … especially when the studio makes it difficult for them to see a movie. Me, I’m just an average Joe who has a chance to share my opinions on movies from a fan’s perspective here at CliqueClack, and going in with the lowest of expectations, it was better than I’d ever expect it to be. Sometimes you have to ignore the snooty critics (because a lot of them think much more of themselves than they should — and most of them have never made a movie) and listen to the people :-) We’ll see how it does this weekend.

  2. I kind of half agree with you here, Chuck. As a Renner fan, I went to see this one today and wasn’t sure what to expect of it – and I came out feeling pretty much the same way that I went in. I don’t totally regret seeing it, but I also felt a bit underwhelmed. To be fair, you don’t go to a movie like this expecting it to reinvent the wheel, but I still cringed a little about how predictable the script was. I’d call it decidedly average…still, it did satisfy my Jeremy Renner fix, I suppose.

  3. They never did a screening in my area, so I saw it the old fashioned way and I have to agree. Although Renner’s Hansel looks a good 7-15 years older than Gretal and the characters spent more time posing with hot guns than anything else, I enjoyed it. However, the movie felt a tiny bit mysoginistic with the opening scene of demons with distorted breasts getting blown up and then ending with watching Renner’s Hansel beating the crap out of every ugly female he meets … ;)