Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (Unrated Cut) (Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy + UltraViolet) (2012)

Actors: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen, Peter Stormare, Thomas Mann
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen
Language: English
Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Dubbed: French, Portuguese, Spanish
Region: A/1
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 2
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Paramount
DVD Release Date: June 11, 2013
Run Time: 88 minutes




The problem with films like Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters isn’t the premise. It’s the tired groupthink that spawned that premise in the first place, as well as the utterly lackluster development process that ruins everything it touches.

We go in looking for a little goofy fun and we’re not picky about how it arrives. We’re not going to harp about the lead’s American accents, the outlandish clockwork gadgets or all those pesky “logic” issues that a more upscale effort would need to address. We just want some inventive action, cute banter and maybe a few special effects that stand out from the crowd. The film’s resolute failure to deliver even one of these things turns what should be a throwaway lark into an exercise in onscreen depression.

The concept is enough to get our attention at least, as everyone’s favorite fairy-tale witch killers grow up and start operating professionally. Great start. So where do you go from there? As it turns out, you go to a run-of-the-mill plot to take over the world, aided by some great production concepts, but undermined by feckless direction and muddy cinematography that turns everything into glop. Famke Janssen stars as the queen of the wicked witches, plotting some nonsense about a once-in-a-lifetime “Blood Moon” and the unholy spell it will somehow facilitate.

Standing against her are our brother-and-sister duo (Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton), armed with an endless array of steampunk toys and inside knowledge of how witches operate. It sounds a lot more fun than it is. The two stars generate absolutely no chemistry together, compounded by their thinly drawn personalities and overshadowed by the outlandish guns they wield. It doesn’t help when director Tommy Wirkola gives them nothing to do beyond variations of the same action sequence. See witch, kill witch, deliver witticism, move on.

Lots of critics pointed to the anachronistic dialogue and accents, as well as the various gadgets, as cause for complaint. In the right frame of mind, they’re actually a selling point, increasing the film’s ridiculous qualities and helping us getting into the spirit of a good romp. But like the rest of its assets, Hansel and Gretel fails to deploy them properly. Instead, we get to watch with increasing exasperation as any sense of fun or enjoyment gets sucked out of the equation. The goofiness never enters into it; if the movie can’t entertain us, we honestly don’t care about throwaway details. The make-up looks good and Janssen, at least, gets into the spirit of the proceedings, but the rest of the film is a flat-out waste. Even grindhouse movies need to bring more to the table than this one does: on its terms or anyone else’s.

THE DISC: The “unrated” version of the disc contains a few nominal scenes that add nothing to the already depressing experience of watching. The transfer is strong, so you can look at all the diarrheic browns in perfect HD, while the sound quality is far better than the film’s technical specs deserve. Extra features are absolutely minimal: a fifteen-minute bit on the film’s development, a bit on the witches’ look and a brief glimpse at the film’s troll monster.

WORTH IT? Under no circumstances, even if all you want is a little mindless fun. Especially if all you want is a little mindless fun.

RECOMMENDATION: The film’s awful reputation is well-deserved, and doesn’t improve much on Blu-ray. Keep looking; there are plenty of better films to spend your money on.

- Rob Vaux



blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest Headlines

Most Popular

Copyright © 1997-forward James O'Ehley/The Sci-Fi Movie Page (unless where indicated otherwise).