Miscellaneous Post: H is for… Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is one of those films that’s an excellent example of “great idea, not so great execution.” Its release also seemed designed to capitalize on Renner’s Marvel/Bourne success, and the current market saturation of fairy tale reimaginings.
I enjoyed the casting; Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton are good, and who doesn’t love Famke Jannsen? The concept of witch hunters who are immune—mysteriously, to them—to witchcraft is really interesting, especially combined with the additional mythology about witches that is created, such as the idea of the rot showing on their bodies as they use the dark magic. Talk about two people (Hansel and Gretel) turning their imprisonment—a horrifying, twisting experience—around and making it work for them.
I loved Ben and Edward, and whether or not naming the giant ugly troll “Edward” is a sly kick to the knees of Twilight is unknown. Pihla Viitala was pretty and sweet and I’ve never even heard her name before. It appears that might be because she’s Finnish. I was upset when she wasn’t able to be revived, especially after the healing portrayed earlier in the film.
Though considering Hansel can’t seem to find a town in the middle of the day, making his way back to the healing pool is obviously too much to ask.
Special effects and fight choreography were very good; the fight scenes were a lot of fun to watch. The addition of guns and Tasers into a medieval sort of world somehow worked, possibly because reality is thrown by the wayside by the magic anyway. And making a house out of candy isn’t anywhere near practical. Delicious, yes, practical, no. The diversity of witches obviously took a lot of work, and the climactic fight scene with the entire group of them appeared to feature depictions of witch-like creatures from all over the world, or at least that’s how I’m interpreting it. Could have used more spells that weren’t just energy bolts, like that Curse of Hunger for Crawling Things. That was both gross and clever.
Do trolls actually serve witches, or is that something Edward is told to believe? I don’t recall there being other trolls around.
Some of the dialogue was fun, if a bit predictable: “Whatever you do, don’t eat the fucking candy.” “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.” “Who the fuck is Edward?” Though the profanity was a little jarring for some reason, likely the medieval setting.
The film was also gorier than expected, but after the first couple examples it was easy to get used to, even if certain things made me wince (Edward smashing the Sheriff’s head, for example). It just added some grossness in with the action and magic.
My main problem with the film is that it was too short. Frankly it felt like it jumped from halfway through the second act straight into the third, which makes a big difference when it happens only an hour into the movie. The rush opened up a lot of needless plot holes, such as why did the witch let Hansel go and tie him to a tree rather than kill him? He’s just seen riding away and then it cuts to him hanging there, trying very unsuccessfully to look cool in front of Mina. How did Gretel get to their old house? We last see her calling after Edward, and then Hansel finds her in the basement. It’s like a reel was missing and no one bothered to find it.
And for the love of God, Hansel and Gretel didn’t recognize their old town or their old woods? They had to have wandered away from that initial witch’s home, with plenty of time to take in their surroundings. They really didn’t recognize anything at all around their home? Did they never go into town with their parents when they were kids? Did not make any sense. Maybe trauma could have caused memory loss, but they seem to remember everything else about their imprisonment. But why wouldn’t the older townspeople recognize the names ‘Hansel’ and ‘Gretel’ and realize these are the same people that lived in the house they burned down?
It seems that there’s an extended cut out there that was not what I watched through Redbox. Perhaps some of my concerns are answered in it.
I found the film dark, too, and I don’t mean that metaphorically or atmospherically. I mean as in I wanted to adjust the picture settings on the TV. Even watching it in broad daylight.
BUT, if you’re looking for a crash-and-bash movie with a pretty cast and nice effects/choreography, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters may be a good choice. Especially if you don’t have the time for something longer. It’s fun enough, and seems to have a sequel in the works.
Also, the opening credit sequence is fabulous. Really well done. Just…long, for such a short film.